Archive for the 'dialogue' Category

Mike Muir and a great post from Vicki

Friday, April 28th, 2006

I came across Mike Muir’s blog this morning thanks to a post from Vicki on her coolcatteacher blog. Her post is well worth reading and ties well to my rant that was inspired (more like prodded to life) by Angela (author of musingsfromtheacademy). I should just title this post - links worth reading!

Mike is a professor of educational technology at the University of Maine at Farmington and has done extensive research on their 1:1 program as well as played an integral role in its implementation. We visited them a little over a year ago and have been in touch through our 1:1 symposium. These are all great to add to your aggregator… Great to see you online, Mike!

Social Justice - Who Walks With You?

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

Who walks with you? What a powerful question. As much as a person makes decisions that are socially responsible, as much as a person is outspoken in regards to social responsibility and as much as a person makes personal strides towards social equity, when we ask each other ‘who walks with you’, we as how powerful our impact, our footprint on society, is. Jonathan Jansen from the University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, described his story, the growth and maturation of his life, in the context of this question.

I thoroughly enjoyed this session as Jonathan discussed two schools that went through the process of integration after apartheid in South Africa. He focused his presentation around the concept of leadership within the context of social responsibility and noted several concepts that he has learned through his experiences.

  • Leadership must be corporate. When it is spread out, not only is the workload distributed, but the ownership and relevancy of the leadership is much greater.
  • Leadership in the context of social responsibility is exhausting.
  • Leadership in the context of social responsibility requires a personal commitment to modeling what is expected of who one is leading.

Here are some lines that I jotted down during the presentation.

Language struggles are not simply about language, but about emotion, authority and history.

If the leadership of the school does not reflect respect and integration, then the students will reflect the same.

You cannot expect your students to cross these difficult borders if your life as a leader does not play testimony to an integrated society.

If you are going to lead for social justice, you must ask, ‘what is worth teaching, after all?’.

In this madness about measurement, we have forgotten the broader meaning of educating. What we need to know, is will the pass life?

‘Our history is with us every single day’

My mind raced in thinking about the integration issues we have locally, both with language and with culture. How can a community be moved to embrace diversity. While integration and diversity are a common theme in society today, we will always have challenges in working to understand other people and other cultures - that is just human nature. There is hope, and it requires work and commitment. How far are we willing to push? And more importantly, who is walking with us?

…just my notes - I’d like to think that I’m out there where the left lane ends, but sometimes I’m just not too sure.


Saturday, April 1st, 2006

I am in Chicago at the ASCD conference, and having a great time! The sessions are great (quality) and I am bathing in the extra time I have for self reflection (and some good Chicago jazz!).

I started Friday in a pre-conference session all about boredom. Richard Strong started with a quote that went something like: “If boredom is different for everybody, then (are we being taped?) … we’re screwed.” We often look at the students in our classroom through the standard lens of labels that are fed to us, not by our own will. A student is labeled by TAKS, LD or ADD, and these labels blind us to the individuality of each student. When we stop to notice our own personality style and how we teach, and then compare that to the personality styles of the different students in our classroom, it becomes apparent that we frequently teach to one type of student, and label the rest.

Richard ended the full day pre-conference session by discussing the meaning of the word responsible, or as he put it - response-able. The claim was that, through diversifying our teaching and learning to match a variety of personality/learning styles, we can develop faculty and students that are ABLE to RESPOND to different needs of others, to different situations and to their life. This should be our goal.

As noted by Richard, boredom is simply a form of depression. We know through research that working with the different personality types as noted by Richard and Harvey Silver, we can trigger engagement in each student. Strong and Silver are in the process of working on a specific framework so that teachers can pinpoint how to bring out the different personality traits, not just through a general lesson, but through specific pieces of one lesson - mix and match your teaching day - RESPOND to the students’ variety of personality types.

Some quotes or thoughts from the session:

I believe that we are in danger of scientificizing education. We should not take a one-eyed view. Culture is the other perspective and we must approach our classrooms with stereo vision.

How many people have planned a great lesson, and it failed? How many people have walked into a class without a clue and had a great day? Half of teaching is design and half of teaching is response.

Boredom is a form of depression - it manifests itself in the inability to find meaning. It comes in three shapes: 1) deprivation shape (I am bored because something is not there); 2) The stimulus lacks meaning; 3) when it takes us to the edge of despair.

People have different ideas. In science, ideas become powerful with evidence. In culture, ideas become powerful within conversation.

A teacher is only as effective as, not what they know, but what the students really walk away with.

Assess, align, adjust, achieve

Concept: turn students into coaches that praise, prompt and probe. Increase feedback, increase response time

Personality types:

You can download the PowerPoint and visit their website for further exploration. Not realizing how the morning general session would tie into this concept, I started thinking about how these ideas flow into a 1:1 environment. It is my firm belief that a solid one-to-one laptop program is centered around an institution that has solid instructional practice. That being said, the over-arcing message is that we, as educators must take responsibility for the education of our students. We CAN NOT say, ‘these students just don’t want to learn’, or ‘these kids are different today’. They are OUR students, our kids. We must take responsibility to engage our students and take the time to learn about each one. This is a tough challenge, and the solution is hard work. When we make that commitment, we establish the foundation for a successful 1:1 laptop program - a program where the computer flows through instruction as a tool that is a part of individualized instruction which engages all students.

TB and the real story (and teaching our kids to think?)

Friday, March 24th, 2006

I listened to a story on (oh, here it comes) NPR this morning about drug resistant tuberculosis.

This particular story struck my interest after reading Mountains Beyond Mountains : The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. This book blew me away and opened my eyes to the story behind the story about the multiple drug resistant tuberculosis problem around the world. It turns out that, according to Farmer (who has dedicated his entire life to not only changing policy, but working one-on-one with those in need), the problem is caused by sloppy treatment and overpriced drugs that are very cheap to produce. Farmer goes so far as to reverse the impact of MDR TB in a community in Haiti, demonstrating to the World Health Organization how it really can be done right.

You may be wondering where I am going with this (or you may already know ;) ). If you listen to the NPR story and then compare what you hear to what Paul Farmer tells you, it is a very different perspective. NPR’s report tells us that it looks bleak, that there is not much known about why this is happening or how to fix the larger problem. Farmer says otherwise. This was a good reminder for me that, while I love NPR, it too has many limitations. It is always important to listen/read/think with an open mind and open ears.

I guess this is a theme in my life. I firmly believe that this is a higher level thinking skill that we should focus on when teaching our students. Youth of today will be faced with problems and challenges that we can not even imagine. This is nothing new - the world is in a constant state of change, and while we do not know where that change will specifically take us, I do believe that approaching global change with an understanding of different perspectives is imperative to a better quality of life on this planet.

That is where the left lane ends for me - where the path gets exciting and we all start to think.

Podcast: Professional Learning Communites (PLC) in a 1:1 environment

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Sebastian Bozas was not available yesterday, but I did get a hold of the ITS (Instructional Technology Specialist), Gina Fletcher. Gina has been an integral part of the PLC’s on campus and has some great thoughts. I really think that this kind of dialogue is an absolute must for making progress towards instructional change. Enough of me writing - take a listen…

Click the play button to begin:
Download gina_dialogue.mp3