Sunday morning quickie re: learning & assessment

Yup, we definitely need to continue re-thinking learning and assessment.

Content is cheap and easy to access.

We need to be learning and assessing context and skills – how we manipulate content to create new contexts.

Top News – High-tech cheating? Students see it differently.

Thanks to @scottmcleod for this link.

Blooms Digital Taxonomy: My Thoughts

[cross-posted at 09/10 ~ Thinking Forward]

Concept map for Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Developed by Andrew Churches of Kristin School in Albany Auckland, New Zealand. Click image for source.

Hmmm… not too sure I like the title. I’d just call it revised again, or updated, or something along those lines. It is a taxonomy that is updated to reflect current reality. It incorporates all modes of learning, not only the digital. Right?

Actually, on 2nd look I see that it emphasizes the digital in the descriptors as well as the information document this accompanies. Why the division of digital from all other learning? I’ve written about the problem(s) of separating the digital from other literacies before:

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

And that writing still rings true to me.

As teachers we do need to teach students how to know, understand, and do. We need to teach them how to organize the increasingly messy amount of information around them, how to think critically, how to collaborate, and how to create based on all of those skills.

I plan on teaching these skills regardless of the tools they use to get there. Mind maps can be made with Dabbleboard, with masking tape and paint, or with a pen on the back of an old envelope. Heck, they can be made with a finger in the dirt. But the concept of organizing thought, either individually or collectively – stands way above the decision process over which tool to do it with. In fact, I have seen groups get so bogged down in the tools (tools that aren’t available but they wish they were, tools that don’t work, tools they don’t know properly, tools from home that aren’t compatible with school tools, etc…) that they lose their purpose altogether.

We can also model these skills. Students know I have a blog where I write about my teaching in order to improve it. They know I use different digital organizing tools. They know I collaborate with educators all over the world. They also see me calling other teachers into the classroom for advice/feedback/opinion/whatever. They see me talking with their parents so we can collectively reach our goals. They see me taking days off for professional development, so I can go meet with other teachers to improve our practice.

While I appreciate the addition of new verbs and conditions for learning in Andrew Churches’ taxonomy,  I still think the title and information document puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. As long as we keep our emphasis on the learning outcomes, the tools we use to get there can be varied.

They do not need to be digital.

Golden shovels and crayons

Look at the beautiful shovel!

Look at the beautiful shovel!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Michael Doyle? His science class must be one of the funnest places to be for a student.

I’ve been writing forever on my wariness of technology as the golden egg, about how digital literacy is but a means to an end, not the doorway to a utopic state of education.

And Michael sums it all up better than I ever have.

Here you go, from The Cost of Tools by Michael Doyle.

I love toolboxes, I have several in my basement. If you want to make me happy, buy me a toolbox for my birthday, loaded with tools.

If you want to disappoint me, however, buy me a gold-plated heavy duty shovel and expect me to use it on my next project, no matter what that project is.


The best teachers I know can squeeze their lessons into just about any new technology thrown down from on high. The best teachers I know can teach the same lessons just as well using a crayon on the back of a paper towel.

Educational Malpractice…A values-charged assessment

This morning I commented on Beth Holmes post, which itself was a response to Dan Callahan’s comment on another post she wrote abour educational malpractice in our schools today.

A Malpractice Tree. Click the image for source.

A Malpractice Tree. Click the image for source.

Here’s the post I am referring to:Well, is this Educational Malpractice? in The 21st Century Centurion. So much to think about in this post! Here’s my start…and I’m not done thinking on it, but wanted to get this part of the conversation underway, so here it is:

A) If there is malpractice we need to define who is mal-practicing. I see a lot of talk about how teachers are not doing their duties when it comes to teaching thinking skills. If there is malpractice it is systemic. The teachers are only one element of what happens in the classroom. Though the strongest, they are not usually consulted when it comes to what we should teach children. Teachers deal with day-to-day live classroom activities while administrators, school board personnel, commissioners, and government ministers debate what policies and expectations need to be addressed at the school and class level. If there is malpractice it is systemic.

B) This is a values-charged arguement. In the 70s and still today, proponents of whole language learning believed that students needed to ‘discover’ language in authentic language-based situations, eschewing the explicit instruction of how language works. Many, if not most, students need to learn these skills explicitly. Personally I think it is malpractice to assume otherwise, but that is my value judgment.

C) Sophisticated thinking skills can be taught without the aid of computer technology. My most fruitful lesson so far this year has been sitting on the floor with groups of kids and construction paper creating mind maps of our learning system. Added bonus – construction paper doesn’t lose connection to a server :)

I’m now off to commit some malpractice in my classroom that has 1 working computer running a windows 2000 OS and a display that makes us think we have double vision…

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

Image found on Wikipedia: Hopf Fibration and released into the public domain by its author, Davidarichter

I’ve stayed away from this blog for the past 2 days or so. I’ve been reading a crime novel, making a necklace, playing with my dog, doing suduko, unpacking and organizing, facebooking, and tweeting – basically keeping my mind superficially busy so that it could be free to work away on some issues in the background.

The reflection was triggered by comments on my last post.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies. I do think it important to pass on skills and knowledge regarding these technologies to my students and colleagues. So, why am I unsettled?

On Monday,Keith Gessen mused,

Nice thing we’ve got going here, this “pro-internet,” “anti-internet” debate.

(go read his post to see what he was going on about).

And as I read his post it made me think that this has all become a debate – a this vs. that – and it’s so not about that. It is, however, a resistance to the growing feeling I have that ‘digital literacy’ (see bottom of post for more on that) is becoming confused with the goal.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies, among other technologies, because I have found them to help me in my goal mission – YES MISSION – to help kids learn…

…that kindness is a trait to be valued.

…that making hateful comments like these ones have repercussions that go deep into our souls.

…that accountability and responsibility for one’s actions is heavy heavy….but, heavy.

…how to seek and find the positive in life.

…that they can find their highest selves

…that they can help others to find their highest selves too

…what it is to be a part of a community

And I can’t forget
…that they need to hang on to a sense of humour.

Ease with technology needs to be could be (depending on our immediate needs ;) ) integrated into our learning selves, but it isn’t THE goal.


A virtual high five goes out to these posts I read earlier today:
Learning, Motivation, and Technology by Steve Ransom
Motoko by Keith Gessen
Resources for Community Managers by Connie Bensen
Workplace Literacy by Ken Allen

ps – The term ‘digital literacy’ is starting to creep me out. I laughed OUT LOUD when I read Doug Belshaw’s tweet this morning. It was a good one:

Go back to where you were