Friday, July 18, 2014
We K-12 educators have dabbled in virtual learning with our online class providers, but we still have this need to make sure that learning is still placed within the context of a four-by-four block schedule. Somehow the idea that learning can only occur within the four walls of classroom stubbornly hangs on. We still limit students to taking only four credits a semester or six credits a year because why? Somehow we are afraid that students might get ahead and learn something earlier than they should. In other words, K-12 education has hindered the growth of online learning because of an unwillingness to let go of structures and rules designed to make sure all students advance through the system and graduate at the same pace. But why? Why can't K-12 embrace online learning as much as higher education has?
Certainly we do have students not ready to effectively learn online, but perhaps it's our job to make them ready. Do we use this excuse to avoid allowing students to expand their learning virtually because some aren't ready for it? There are many of our students capable of learning just as well through online learning. Public schools have an obligation to meet the needs of all students, and that includes not holding those back who could take 10 classes a year rather than the prescribed 8. So what if they earn enough credits to graduate early! Perhaps we should rethink the length of time it takes to graduate. At any rate, as the infographic below indicates, online learning continues to grow. With this growth, let's start talking about ways of capitalizing on the learning opportunities this phenomenon offers instead of continuing to force all students to learn at the same rates and in the same manner.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
ASCD Book Bundles for Teachers
- ASCD New Teacher Bundle—In this three-book bundle, each publication addresses common concerns and challenges teachers face during the early years of teaching ($63.88 for print; valued at $80). Read asample from the books in the bundle:
- Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching, by Robyn R. Jackson
- The New Teacher’s Companion: Practical Wisdom for Succeeding in the Classroom, by Gini Cunningham
- Where Great Teaching Begins: Planning for Student Thinking and Learning, by Anne R. Reeves
- ASCD Teacher Resource Collection—This collection of 10 titles explores effective instructional practices, classroom management, and student engagement ($202.88 for print; valued at $270). Read a samplefrom the books in the bundle.
- ASCD Teacher Resource Library—This library of 17 titles covers foundational concepts in an accessible way and emphasizes strategies that teachers can use immediately ($299.77 for print; valued at $428). Read a sample from the books in the bundle.
- Join ASCD—ASCD membership offers more information and ideas about learning and teaching than any other single source. Multiple membership levels offer an increasing number of valuable benefits and resources, including substantial savings on ASCD publications.
- Pathfinder—This new ASCD membership benefit offers a variety of practical articles for educators at any career stage who want to expand or redefine their jobs.
- #ASCDL2L Twitter chat—ASCD (@ASCD) invites educators to participate in a monthly conversation about learning, teaching, and leading during the night #ASCDL2L Twitter chat. Held on the first of each month using #ASCDL2L, the chat allows participants to submit questions, share insights, and offer resources that help all educators support the success of each learner.
- Pinterest—ASCD has added a new pin board to the ASCD Pinterest page that is specifically for new teachers entering the education profession. The New Teacher Resource board features practical articles, publications, and other professional development resources that will enhance new teachers’ practices in the classroom.
- Instagram—Follow ASCD on Instagram and get a glimpse inside ASCD events, read inspiring quotes from ASCD experts, learn about ASCD publications, and interact with our community through inspiring pictures and videos.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
If I really confess about my own computer experiences, the very first computer that I used was actually a Mac. Back in the beginning of my teaching career, our media center at the high school where I taught had a Macintosh lab which included 25 Macintosh SE computers, networked together, complete with a Mac printer. I was one of the few teachers in my building that constantly brought students into the media center to use these machines. Mind you, this was before there was a single Internet connection in the school, so we primarily used these computers for the creation of printed documents. My students created some real flashy brochures, newsletters, and magazines for their in-class projects.
Looking back to that experience now, almost 25 years later, there was an excitement in those classes. My students, most of which at that time would have not had computers at home, were excited at being able to engage in both the use of technology, and in the use of that technology to create original content. As a teacher, I was excited as well because my students and I were engaged in learning quite different from what any other teachers and students were engaged in in the entire building. The excitement of being pioneers and pushing learning beyond the edges motivated both my students and myself. We literally monopolized the computers and the computer lab because at that time, no one else saw any future in it.
Today, my lesson plans in 1988 would hardly be considered integrating technology into learning, and rightfully so. Just getting students to do what they could without technology hardly means capitalizing on technology. Today, teachers who subject their students to endless PowerPoint presentations are hardly getting students to actively use technology. Even getting students to create their own presentations is no longer really engaging students in using technology to push the edges of innovation.
In some ways, PowerPoint presentations have become the "five paragraph essay" of yesterday. Most of us who've taught English for more than fifteen years remember that monstrosity. The five-paragraph essay was an attempt to standardize writing in order help students mold their writing to fit standardized test scoring. Needless to say, as a teaching strategy, it was more about getting high scores on state writing tests than about students expressing original ideas and thoughts. It certainly wasn't about creativity and innovation. PowerPoint presentations as projects in many ways have replaced those five-paragraphs essays; they are simply as standardized way for students to present information.
Looking back to my own experiences with the old Macintosh SE lab, our excitement about learning was about possibility and promise. When you explore new technologies, you experiment and innovate; standardized products don't exist yet, because you are exploring the edges of what can be done. The technology itself does not cause that excitement; that excitement comes from what you can do with the technology. The exciting thing for me, and I suspect for students, is not the technology itself; it's the act of creation. With technology, we can create in new and unique ways. We can bring into existence things that never existed before using tools in ways they perhaps have never been used before.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Some are calling Oyster, the Netflix of e-books, and upon opening the app, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of books available. I even found the titles of several books on my reading list that I’ve been planning to read. Oyster, gives you access to book titles for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95. Right now, I am using a trial of the service, so I am personally undecided whether or not it’s worth my while to pay the month fee. It also remains to be seen whether the e-book service can provide access to an increasing number of titles, but the idea is appealing, especially to someone like me who enjoys access to a book any way I can get it.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Here are some other interesting features of the Sunrise Calendar App.
- Compatible with Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange
- Synchronizes in real time
- Quick Add Event Feature
- Connect to multiple Google Calendars
- Supports Mac notifications
- Offline Mode
Monday, June 30, 2014
“Pause before sending an email. What do I want to see come out of this communication? The other party to feel diminished or encouraged?” Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace
Email has made it quite easy to speak your mind. How many of us are guilty of pounding out a scathing response to an email that we received from someone else who wrote from a moment of passion? Chances are, unless you’ve been asleep for the first decade of the 21st century, you have had your own experiences of composing and sending an email that did little to be helpful and much to be hurtful or detrimental to an already emotional situation. There’s something about email that seems to make it OK to speak to other people in ways that we would dare not speak to them in person.
This tendency to respond out of passion is all the more reason to “Pause” before sending that email when we find ourselves ruled by passion. A simple test I follow is this:
I ask myself: Will this email response be useful? And, as Sharon Salzberg indicates, “What do I want to see come out of this communication?” If the answer is harm to another person, then perhaps the delete button is the best option. If my email response will bring about harm to another, even in the spirit of revenge, then is it really expedient to send that message?
We don’t have to be discourteous and thoughtless with our messages. In fact, in our times, there’s just too much polarization and hate to go around already. Why would we choose to add more simply because it satisfies our own sense of revenge?
Today, don’t be afraid to “Pause” before sending that email-of-vengence.” If our message is harmful to others, no good can come from it. The delete button is sometimes the best option.