Thursday, August 22, 2013

Moving Blogs

My blog is moving to Not sure I like the look yet and it's quite obvious the latest post was written after midnight, but you have to start somewhere. Adios

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 23 BLC13

This morning I was privileged to be in a session with Dr. Eric Mazur of Harvard University. Aside from being an international superstar in the world of physics, Dr. Mazur is also a superstar of pedagogy for his rigorous work with what is now called the flipped classroom. He originally called it "inverting the sequence," for the trivia buffs. There was much to dissect in what he said and I have some things to read over, but I want to get a few nuggets down here now.

  • Mazur quoting Camus, "Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people are sleeping."
  • Most uses of technology in schools are like old wine in new skins.
  • The design of a traditional physical classroom space is based upon the Greek amphitheatre which was designed for entertainment not learning.
  • Have you ever heard a student say, "Teacher, please be quiet. I need time to think?"
Lots of other meaty information from Mazur, but I need time to read it over and think.

I spent my afternoon with the gregarious Alan November. I love the way he thinks aloud while he's teaching. I also really appreciate how willing he is to entertain questions, even those that seem tangential.

As I listened to Alan, the effort/impact matrix that Ewan McIntosh and Tom Barrett reminded me of during yesterday's session. It would be interesting to examine various technology initiatives in schools in terms of where they might fall on this matrix.

Trying to keep this short tonight. Three more learning-packed days ahead!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BLC13 Pre-Conference July 23

Basic thoughts on my first day at BLC. Will be revised and reflected upon later.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grammar is not Glamour

It's summer break and the time when all good teachers put workbooks in front of their own children.

Despite all of my talk and beliefs about the need for learning experiences marked by discovery, collaboration, connection, relevance, and authenticity, my son spends time with a grammar workbook several days a week. 

If I make a Wordle of what his summer looks like, it's something like this, filled with a variety of great summer activities, places and people:

In my mind, though, admitting the existence of the workbook makes his summer look more like this:

He doesn't fight the workbook. In fact, he seems to enjoy it. I think he feels accomplished because he's good at it and it's concrete. Grammar is not glamour and requires practice, practice and more practice.

If you have any suggestions on how grammar can be taught in a way that would capture the minds and hearts of more students, I would love to hear from you. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

1999 and 2012

This adorable little girl was my student back in 1999 when I started teaching in a computer lab at an international school in Bangkok.

Her kindergarten class came in once a week for 45 minutes to learn how to use the computers. At the time, nobody on administration truly felt the kindergarten students should be in the computer lab, but apparently the parents clamored for it. A good international school would have computer instruction.

I was a bit against it. I thought young minds should not spend their time in front of a screen staring, being passive. I thought they should be out playing or possibly inside reading books.

But I was determined that if they had to be in the computer lab, I would try to make it as worthwhile an experience as possible, even given the rather limited resources.

So we played number munchers. It was a cheap PacMan knock off aimed at practicing math facts.

And KidPix. They all liked the bomb, but I hated the bomb and refuse to put a picture of it here.

Number Munchers and KidPix, I felt I could justify. We were "integrating technology into the curriculum." Yes, even back before the year 2000, we said we were aiming at that. (Are we there yet?)

I thought Mavis Beacon was going a little far for kids that age. I even read articles that said young children should not be keyboarding. They had plenty of time to learn that.

Some teachers wanted to get kiddie-size keyboards. Eventually the school moved to a new building with kiddie-sized toilets. Some felt placated.

We used floppy disks that were no longer floppy. These were very modern. They were all sorts of pretty colors. And we almost never filled them up!

The floppy disks went in computers like this which was pretty advanced also. It had a cd-rom.

The crazy man is my husband who was helping me demonstrate that students were not allowed to touch the server. EVERYTHING was on that server. The school's finances. The library program. The guidance program. All of it. It sometimes got backed up to a location from which nobody knew how to restore it. That's how things were and still we slept well.

This was my student in spring 2012, graduating high school. She's all grown up now and even has herself a long-term boyfriend. (We approve of him.)

Now she is never without one of these. If she's like me, she may even walk around with several similar devices.

She probably texts like this now. She always was all thumbs. (I can't stop thinking about my thumbs as I type this. I want to thumb type.)

I'll try to digest some of this in my next blog post. I want to reflect on what we really taught students about technology a decade-and-a-half ago and how it may or may not have changed. I want to examine what was useful and what was not. Most of all, I want to try to draw conclusions about how what we are teaching today may or may not be relevant for our kindergarten students when they graduate twelve years from now.

And below is my student's comment upon seeing this post.

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