Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Words I'm Not Used to Hearing

Today I had the great please of learning more about Nagel MS's (Forest Hills Schools, Cincinnati, OH) BYOL pilot program.

First the pleasantries....Cary, Trish, and the other folks at Nagel were very welcoming.

I've been looking forward to this day even though it meant scrambling for internal coverage so I could attend.

Our own home district has gone thru the process of considering a model that involves greater access.  We started with the ideal which for us (at least at the time) is/was tablets.  However, the price of even a pilot program proved to be too much in today's economic situation.  Perhaps it would be too expensive to bite off even in much more prosperous times.  :)

I was impressed with the teachers, the lessons I observed, the admin and board members I spoke with, and the students with whom I spoke.

But what made the greatest impression on me was the language of the Nagel team.  I heard words I haven't heard for a long time in this era of high stakes assessment, labeling kids (green, yellow, red), and raising test scores.  I'm used to a whatever it takes attitude.  Whatever takes to hit the score.

What I'm Used to HearingWhat I Heard at Nagel MS
test score
value added
"what color is that student"
ie red, yellow, green
student growth

I am excited by what I heard today.....and I am hoping our visit to Nagel will be the start of something great in our own district.

I know there may be some people who would rather optimistically wait for the opportunity to provide each student with a district purchased tablet.  Part of me thinks this is a bit "pollyannish" to think our district will ever spend money in this way.  I'm not saying our district is cheap....I'm just saying no board may ever see the expense as worthwhile.  Plus we have kids now, we have kids tomorrow, don't we owe it to the students we service while waiting for the day that may never come.

Analogies are a great way to simplify complex thoughts or systems.   I view bring your own laptops and netbooks as driving a Corolla while a one to one program complete with tablets as the Mercedes model of student access.  However, if given the choice between walking until I can afford the Mercedes or some actually gives it to me and driving a late model Corolla right now, I will choose the Corolla....thank you very much.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Less School, More Learning

This one will have to be a short it is late....I need to finish plans....and I am tired but I was so bummed out when I read the words.

Each year I teach grade 5 students how to gather data and then create their own graphs.  I like them to have data relevant to them with which to work on the project.

Tonight I'm downloading the survey results and putting the raw count of each question into separate files for the different students.

My final question was "What is your best idea for improving this school?"  Of course there were the silly answers such as no school at all, gym all day, etc.  And quite a few noble ideas such as we need to recycle more, we need to raise money for needy children, etc.  

And then I saw it.  Less School--More Learning.  I've checked my class lists and although I have close to 500 students none of them are named Alfie Kohn.  I was sad that a ten year old has already discovered that school and learning aren't always the same thing.  Sad that this student likes learning and finds that school gets in the way.  I want to talk to this student and get more information from them to get background on their little gem of a line.  However, although I suppose I could re-pull the data from the server and see whose response it is I simply won't do it.  I promised it would be an anonymous survey and I will keep it that way.

In the meantime, I need to make sure I have more learning in my classes and less school.  More discovery less regimentation.  More aha moments and less linear lessons.

Thank you anonymous student for the reminder.

What I learned this week 05/09/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

We Interview the “Floating Porsche” Owner and Learn its Fate | Porsche Cars, Products and LifeStyle

We Interview the “Floating Porsche” Owner and Learn its Fate | Porsche Cars, Products and LifeStyle

Creative problem solving at its best.

Man fears he will lose his beloved Porsche in recent flooding. Places Porsche on a inflatable boat bladder of some sort, inflates it, and keeps his Porsche safe by keeping it floating on surface of flood. Brilliant!

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck

The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck

Excuse the language of the above post....but it is still a great read and great advice to live for yourself and "your people" not everyone else.

YouTube - Very funny dog! Really determined too...

YouTube - Very funny dog! Really determined too...

Love this video and the pure optimism of the dog that the "man" will throw the stick.