Things to think on

What am I thinking on tonight?

thinking monkey

image from: http://weblogs.asp.net/blogs/dotjosh/ThinkingMonkey.jpg

Chris Lehmann’s post on students boycotting standardised exams: Reasonable Actions for Unreasonable Times

and Whitney Hoffman‘s reflective question in response to the post:

The real question is why we look at education as a content delivery system whose effectiveness can be tested by standardized six-sigma-esque methods, rather than as long term research and development of new citizens, who need to be informed, knowledge gathers and synthesizers.

and the fact that many teachers I know are right now trying to figure out how to cram a whack of irrelevant data into their students, knowing full well that their students will not recall the info enough to pass the end of year evaluations. And they are stressed as all get out about it. What a way to end a year.

I’ve got lots more to say about this, but right now I just can’t bring myself to say it. I’ve cited him before, but here I go again, KRS One says it well…

You must learn…just like I told you!

Nothing else to say right now besides… bravo to the students and their Social Studies teacher of IS 318 in the Bronx. You make me happy to be a teacher today.

I’m going to think on this one for a bit.

Invention at Play

I discovered Adam Hunt via his comment on my latest LeaderTalk post. When I went to peruse his blog, I was met with his review of this great (fun) interactive game resource for the classroom (click the logo to go):

I’m having fun and I’m going to test it out on my students next week.

I also like the conversations on play that are available for viewing on the site, including transcripts. Here’s a quote from the site:

“Children are making up theories of the world, going out and testing those theories, doing experiments to explore those theories, and that testing and experimentation is what we see when we see play. Even the very youngest children are already doing some of the same things that scientists are doing.”
–Alison Gopnik, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, co-author, The Scientist in the Crib

Here’s a direct link to the section of the site with the videos –> Does Play Matter?

Do you play in your classroom?

Mr. Wasserman re-directs

Thanks to Jose for pointing me towards Mr. Wasserman who I NEED to applaud for writing this:

I don’t want this to be a complaining post. Nobody likes reading those, for starters, and May is such a great time of year to try to be happy. So instead, I’ve been thinking about things I can do which will raise my ability to respect myself as a teacher, which should translate into improvements, at least in my immediate sphere.

I’m digging the way he re-focuses his malaise towards what we can do to create positive change. How many times have I heard complaints about how our students:

It is rare that I see someone considering what to do as an alternative to complaining. Mr. Wasserman reflectively concludes:

But I want to focus on giving my students only meaningful work to do, only things that have a clear value to them. the trick, I suppose, is to figure out what those things are.

Yes, that is the trick. And I think it is really easy to do –> We need to spend more time talking with our students than at them. Well, at least the first part is easy. The second part is integrating what we find out with the curriculum we are teaching. I think that is what makes teaching an art.

I’ll be heading back to read Mr. Wasserman again.
Thanks Jose.

The Experience Project

I just this moment discovered this project through facebook – in one of those ads that usually annoy the crap out of me in the left hand column (they annoy me because a) they are usually about finding an adult friend or signing up for some kind of scammy looking deal; and b) when I am at home on my weak little 512mb of ram machine they slow down the page loading process). This time though my eye quickly snagged on the idea of teacher stories that was in the headline, so I clicked.

My click brought me to a page with this header image:

First browse makes me like it – a site dedicated to sharing inspirational stories about teachers and teaching is a good thing in my books. Any time we share stories that touch our deep cores about what matters most to us as people we are one step (or maybe, actually, a million steps) closer to creating more of those kinds of experiences.

Once I scanned through the first page I was drawn by ‘The Experience Project’ logo, I like the font, the colours – simple blues (not so sure about the anxious little character at the front, though).

Took me a few moments to find out how to get to the project main page (maybe they need a link that is more obvious…) but once I did I was glad I got there.

I definitely need to explore this some more, but Chalk it Up seems to be but one element of the Experience Project – a social networking site dedicated to sharing the stories that make up our most positive experiences.

Pretty cool stuff. I’m thinking this kind of thing can be a great way to collect and preserve stories shared during an appreciative change process in an organization.

I’m going to join and find out some more about it.

Maybe you can too.

If you do, I am harmonicagoldfish :)

Interactive Whiteboard

A few months ago I found this interesting video about a home-made interactive whiteboard (a la smartboard) made by Johnny Chung Lee, from Carnegie Mellon University.

Outside of the niftyness factor of making your own cool tool using a wii remote, this project can also create huge savings for schools. A smartboard can set you back from 1000 (without projector) to 5000 dollars (with all the bells and whistles, including integrated projector) , while this project, on top of a projector, will cost you about 45$ for the wii controller and a few extra dollars for hardware.

This morning I found detailed instructions, including free software downloads for LED pen calibration to help ease the process, for building the project on Johnny Chung Lee’s website. Very cool stuff.

Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard using the Wiimote