What if it was Stranger Friend and Not Stranger Danger

Image fromッ Zach Hoeken ッ 

I enjoy reading George Couros’ blog The Principal of Change and liked this post as it resonates with the message I tell my students. There is so much we can learn, share, and help each other with that to cast anyone me meet online as a danger waiting to happen diminishes all that we are and all that the Internet can offer. Should you be careful? Of course! Should you not be careful when traveling to a city or a wilderness area? Absolutely! I have a newspaper article hanging on the bulletin board outside my office that has this 2009 headline: “Unfriendly peers pose greatest Net threat”which features research from Kaiser Foundation in 2007. It is now 6 years later and we still discuss using the Internet as something to be careful

Mark Moran left a comment with a link to Yoursphere which looks like a neat idea on how to help our students and adults in our lives. Check out the Parents section. It is similar to Common Sense Media which is full of great resources.

Granted, not all of us are born without an arm, but all of us can find friends that could add to our lives. 

Writing – #More or #Less

This year our 6th grade students have their own blog as part of their Language Arts class. We use Edublogs for this as the My Class feature allows teachers to manage some aspects that are important to them. Check out Ms. Williams’ and Ms. Donnelly’s for links to student blogs. I know students are writing more since the access to iPads is 24/7. We have seen some scores go up in our ERB tests which while not directly attributed to the iPad or any other technology, there is no doubt the more you write, the better you become at writing. In fact, in our school’s application to become an Apple Distinguished School, we wrote this statement. 

Any worthwhile examination of the effects one-to-one iPads have on student learning must include a look at testing data. After only one year of our program, it is far too early for that data to be conclusive. However, we did discover some thought-provoking data points.

In the classrooms where the teachers had the most experience with integrating digital devices in class (6th grade Language Arts), median student testing gains on three of the five ERB CTP4 subtests were not significantly different from the prior three years of testing. But in two areas, median scores jumped significantly. The running average for the three years prior to the iPad program shows the median student scaled score increasing 9.5 points in Writing Concepts and Skills. Last year that median gain was 13 points. In Reading Comprehension the median gain was even larger – an increase from 3.3 point average gains to last year’s 12 point gain.

We plan to use data points like these as jumping-off points for conversations about the roles technology integration may or may not impact student testing outcomes. And we’ll certainly keep an eye on testing to see whether these gains recur this year, or were anomalies.

Today, I read the story How Digital Writing is Making Kids Smarter on Graphite.org and thought it was great information about how writing more, without cursive, is helping our students. The article also mentioned the video above which I thought relevant as only a few years ago, the term hashtag was not part of the vocabulary of most people. Now we see it everywhere with the rise of Twitter. #iamgettingsmarter.

 

Being the Subject is Different

liveeworkcreate

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28826792@N00/5971423516

Joanne Shang, a colleague, is getting her Masters and needed my help. 

This is her request:

Hi Karl,
I need to ask you for a favor again!
I am working on an assignment, for my graduate course, to create a documentary on someone in my everyday world who lives creatively. 
I can’t find a better person than you who lives your life with an obviously creative approach, integrating technology and working with middle school children at work and 
managing a farm and working with animals at home. 
May I ‘interview’ (and videotape) you at work on Tuesday 4/2) and Wednesday (4/3) while you are engaged in creative work.  
I wish I had the opportunity to tape you working on the farm too, but due to time constraint, that will be for the next project. 
 Having nothing to loose I agreed as I am prone to do. I think she captured it very well and I am amazed at all that I do and have done since I was born on a farm in Southwest Wisconsin fifty-six years ago.
 

 

Bill Ferriter – Digital Advice for School Leaders – Great Stuff

Leadership

3D Team Leadership Arrow Concept‘ 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22177648@N06/2137729430

Bill Ferriter teaches only a few miles away from where I teach. Even though we are located in similar numbered zip codes, I have never met him or shared air with him. Yet, I have learned a lot from him by way of his blog, his tweets, his book, and since we are both teachers, his profession. He blogs at The Tempered Radical and I can only imagine what it was like before he became “tempered”. I think his ability and courage to say what is on his mind resonates with me as I too often dance close to the edge but then back away due to a fear of over-reaching or that I may not have all of the facts I need. This may be due to my insecurities or self-limiting thinking, but I struggle with how honest to be sometimes in this blog. I try to promote my ideas, but do not wish to be seen as divisive to my colleagues and others who may read this blog. How to advocate while still being open to ideas is something I try to do in my teaching and in my learning. The balance of tension is hard as too much pull and objects snap and not enough force and they droop.

Our school is beginning to search for a new Headmaster which is why Bill’s last post was of particular interest. I agree with what he shared and hope our next leader possess these traits.

On Wednesday, I’ll have the chance to present to the technology committee of our school district’s Division of Principals.  In the process of preparing, I asked my network the ONE bit of advice they thought school leaders interested in driving change in their own buildings needed to hear.

Many of the responses shared the same theme — a theme that was summarized nicely by Tim Wilhelumus, who wrote:

@plugusin Lead with the learning and not with the tools. Always. #wcpsstech #cpchat

— Tim Wilhelmus (@twilhelmus) February 13, 2012

In the end, driving change in schools means remembering that technology alone isn’t revolutionary.  Technology just makes it possible for teachers and students to do revolutionary things.

Our choices about technology need to start and end with our beliefs about learning. Forgetting to put learning first in ANY conversation about education is a recipe for failure.

I also loved Jon Becker’s advice:

@plugusin that very few things could be more impactful than them modeling what it is to be a learner.

— Jonathan Becker (@jonbecker) February 13, 2012

Jon’s right, isn’t he?  Principals ARE the lead learners in our schools.  Your modeling means everything to us — and that includes the example that you set when exploring the ways that new tools and social spaces can change learners.

Finally, Steven Anderson’s point is worth noting:

@plugusin Get connected. Team up with other admin and share and learn and grow, together. It’s how we improve ourselves and our craft.

— Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) February 13, 2012

Whatever you do, move forward. Take the digital plunge — and bring some friends!  Learn together.  Experiment.  Figure out what’s possible and what matters.  Change your own learning and then start changing the learning in your buildings.

Any of this make sense?

Dan Meyer – A Few Words – Says A Lot

Inafewwords

I enjoy reading Dan Meyer’s blog as he is both a deep thinker and a great writer. He is also a teacher in his core fiber no matter where he finds himself these days. I thought this post was both thought provoking as well as summed up well the description of the role of a teacher in today’s classroom. Well said Dan, well said. Emphasis is mine.

 

Khan Academy acknowledges the difference, though, and attempts to split it by saying, in effect, “We’ll handle the math that plays to our medium’s strength. Teachers can handle the other math.” So Khan lectures about things that are easy to lecture about with computers and his platform assesses procedures that are easy to assess with computers. Teachers are told to handle the things for which teachers are a good medium: conversation, dialogue, reasoning, and open questions.