Interesting conversation about teaching and technology

I had a very interesting conversation with a colleague the other day. She is a teacher in adult education with upwards of 35 years in the classroom and she said to me that the model we recently used in her class and others, with me going directly into the classroom and working with students, makes sense to her.


I love this drawing of a classroom. It was done by Todd Berman, a substitute teacher in San Francisco. Click it to go to his website.

(I visited her Economics classroom and talked about technology and advertising. Then I returned on 3 different occasions to work directly with individual and small groups of students as they created advertisements for virtual businesses.)

She said (and these are her words) that she will never know enough about tech to be able to teach her students anything new about tech. She said that it is a waste of time to send her off to do workshops to learn a new technology in the hopes that she would then teach it to her students, and that it is best to show the tech to the students so they can use it within the context of her curriculum and that, if anything, they should be the ones showing her how to use it.

This model
a) keeps teachers in the classroom as opposed to sending them out of the classroom for PD.
b) allows teachers to focus on their curriculum while offering different pathways to students to get through it
c) allows for professional collaboration between teachers and consultants
d) fosters student leadership as they learn new tools from a consultant and can show it to each other and their teachers.

We went on to talk about how the big work is in creating teachers like her who are willing to let something like that happen in their classrooms.

I like that idea – the idea of classroom as a site of professional learning.

Funny story about making educational video

I know what makes a boring, didactically challenged video. I even spent some time not two weeks ago talking about this, analyzing this with other educators.

And yet, today I struggled with creating a video (multimedia presentation…actually glorified powerpoint, whatever) that didn’t fall into that description. The presentation is just a little thing but I still feel there is too much text, that it’s not dynamic enough, that it is just…dull.

And it took me more than a few minutes to create. Many more.

So if I had such difficulty and I am aware of what not to do. And I have a desire to create the video. And I have some time in which to do so as part of my job…imagine how daunting the task of creating relevant, didactically charged video would be for educators who don’t have those luxuries.

Scarier thought…wonder what their classrooms look like unplugged, so to speak.


The Changing Face of Economics Class (and advertising)

**cross-posted at AdultEd.TracyRosen.Com**

The idea of advertisement is in constant evolution. It is becoming more and more personal. Google’s ads are streamlined to reflect our search queries and sites like facebook do the same thing.

Test it out. Do a search for something specific on Google. Like a particular kind of shoe or boot. Then log into facebook and lo and behold, the ads will suddenly be geared to just those shoes you were looking for!

Just the other day, I heard about an app called Aurasma that brings static advertisements to life with your SMART phone. Someone with a SMART phone can not only view these ads but can create their own as well. More and more, companies rely on us for their advertising. If I talk about how much I love my new x, y, or z on facebook or twitter, I am helping out the company by effectively advertising to all of my contacts.

If advertising is so much more than the print, radio, or tv ads of yore, how do we teach about it?

I’d say it’s essential to read about how it is changing. And to bring that into our classrooms. is a good place, with a lot of content about the latest trends in advertising.

Facebook’s New, Entirely Social Ads Will Recreate Marketing by E.B. Boyd at Fast Company, a company with, “… a focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders…”

AllTop Advertising – a collection of the top read advertising articles from across the Web.

Another thought. How could these changes be reflected in the assignments we give our Economics students? Do you have any ideas? Do you know of anyone who is already integrating new advertising techniques into their class assignments?

School discipline, alternative schools, race…

Yesterday afternoon I was driving in my truck (I love my cherry red pickup truck) with Jack yodelling from the passenger seat when I tuned in to Talk of the Nation on NPR. They were in the middle of discussing school discipline and inequality and the part I heard had a first year teacher call in to complain about this one student who kept showing up in her classroom despite numerous incidents of disruption. She said that she spoke with administration, to no avail at first. To his parents, who eventually cussed her out on the phone. Then back to administration, and I think finally he was removed from the school. At the end of her bit, she made a plea for more alternative schools for ‘kids like him’. I’m not sure what she meant by that. Disruptive? Black? Bored? Different?

What struck me was that no where did she mention that she spoke to the boy. Not an in front of the class kind of speaking to the boy but a one on one, caring kind of speaking.

When she wished there were more alternative schools to put ‘kids like him’ I immediately pressed record on my cell phone and said,

‘Here’s a big idea. Why don’t we get rid of alternative schools altogether and just all teach as if we were alternative school teachers.’

When I taught at an alternative school I felt that I was finally teaching the way I was meant to be teaching all along. From a core of relationship. From a starting point of care.

When I say alternative program or school I don’t mean a place where they dumb down the curriculum or focus on life skills because their clients have already failed at ‘real’ school. I mean a place where kids are held to high standards but are helped in their assent past those standards by caring adults. Where glitches are not met with criticism and punishment but conversation and direction. Where discipline and failure does not happen to some more than others because of the colour of their skin, the language of their tongue, or the experience of their parents.

Now that I no longer teach in an alternative program I strive to remain that kind of educator – the kind of teacher I am meant to be.

Looking Back: Stop talking about classrooms that don’t work

As part of my Looking Back series, the sentiments I articulated in this post from August 21st, 2010 are still very alive for me. There are classrooms that work, that work very well. Click on the title below to go to the original post with its comments.

Here is an example of a ‘traditional’ classroom in Japan (scroll down to ‘Inspiration in a Japanese elementary school’). Can you imagine if these students did not have this place? What a shame that would be.


Stop talking about classrooms that don’t work

This morning I read a thoughtful post about what ADD may or may not be. Despite the timeliness and depth of thought present in the article, I was stricken by one paragraph about the perils of classrooms on our children. How our young children today, so rife with creative potential, are doomed to a future of diagnosis and boredom because they will be subjected to school.

I was not only stricken but insulted.

Does all of the work that I and many of my colleagues have done over the past years have no bearing on the future of education? Do all of those teachers out there in schools all over the world who care about their children not count?

I feel we need to get beyond the system is broken kind of thinking and focus on what is working. We see what we look for and if we keep focusing on a broken system we will only succeed in creating more broken system.

Instead of creating a doomsday effect by telling ominous stories of the proliferation of ‘traditional’ classrooms that stifle creativity and connectivity, I prefer to point towards learning that does the opposite, learning that works and educators who ‘get it’.

George Couros
Michael Doyle
Lori Centerbar
Kevin Hodgson
Glenn Moses
Linda Clinton
Elona Hartjes
Darren Kuropatwa
Kelly Hines
Karen S.
Dea Conrad-Curry
Zac Chase
Angela Maiers
Chris Lehmann
Jose Vilson
Damian Bariexca
J. M. Holland


You get the point. There are good educators who foster good learning in good classrooms in good schools. I keep this in mind as I work towards hope for the future within (and without) the walls of my own school.