Friday, March 15, 2013

1:! is Better than the Bengals Winning the Super Bowl

I'm honest when I say that too!

 Ever since the school board approved 1:!, my mind has been racing with the possibilities.  It hasn't thought too long on the obstacles, but I've had classes that have had a majority of students with laptops and I've had classes with every students having a device (laptop or smartphone or iPad) and I've held many classes in the computer lab, so, for me personally, it's not going to be that huge of an adjustments.

But it's going to be awesome.

So with that in mind, I've been mindful to read or keep every Tweet I find that references 1:1 or technology.

Here is a link to a blogpost with several options for creating infographs.  It is my hope that by the time our students leave LHS, they are fluent in not only creating, but most importantly also analyzing or expressing complex information or research in a visually appealing infograph.

Now the other side of the argument is new technology or gadgets like infographs are great until students become used to (or bored with) doing them after creating them in several classes.

And that's a point.  But why has that never stopped up from assigning the questions at the end of the chapter, a reading guide, a crossword puzzle, or notes?

I'm afraid there is nothing students are more used to and bored with than those things!

The challenge will be to continuously work to make sure that each of us use infographs in ways unique to our fields.  For example, I don't think my students who created them to chronicle what they did during their cell phone hiatus is hitting necessarily the same skills as using an infograph to illustrate the cool logic behind "A Modest Proposal" or creating an infograph to illustrate the impact of the Renaissance on Italy or the impact of The Jungle on our food processing industry today.


I love this one just for the title alone: Is technology killing school? Should it?

Great couple of questions.  This post relates mainly to the amazing TED Talk by Sugata Mitra concerning his "computer in a hole in the wall" experiment in various slums around India.  Mitra makes a great claim that for the most part our school system was developed to help support the buracracy of the Victorian Empire, where you had to have people write in long hand in English, be able to do math in their heads, and follow rules.

Mitra then asks if that is what workers needs today?

Of course it isn't!  But Mitra's experiment, which illustrates the power of kids to teach themselves through the sheer will of their own curiosity, begs the viewer to wonder, "are schools necessary anymore?"

As a teacher, of course I think they are.  But I think they should be vastly different than what we have now.  And with our move toward 1:1, I sure hope our classes will start to look different too.


Ten Little Things That Steal Your Happiness

#2 Waiting for the perfect moment --

This one struck me as one that I don't have to worry about.  Since I'm so damn random abstract, I'm not afraid to try something new - such as inserting Seth Godin's The Dip into my curriculum next week in College Comp 2.  It might flop.  Or it might just be one of the best things I ever do, such as when I inserted Godin's Linchpin into my CC2 curriculum last semester and came up with the "remarkable" assignment.  I think if you ask my students in the class, they would say that was a very powerful assignment.  It's probably the best thing I've done in class in the past five years too.

But if I would have waited for the right moment, I'd have never tried it.

Now this often doesn't work out.  I've had very mixed success with Sir Ken Robinson's The Element.  Some class love it; others hate it dearly.  So that one is a mixed bag, but I'm still glad that I tried it.

#3 Working for nothing more than a paycheck --

I was telling two students who stopped by to visit me yesterday and Mr. Zutz, who happened to stop by when they were in my room, that one thing I love about this job is that because of my various roles here (teaching college in the high schools classes, a remedial reading class, ALC courses in the summer, in addition to coaching 8th grade football and robotics) I have come to know a vast range of students here.  

One thing I'm most proud of is that I can walk to my classroom on any given morning and say high to 30 different kids.  You can't put a price tag on that.

There's no way I show up to work just to earn pay.  As corny as it sounds, I show up to make a difference in kids' lives.

I think that's why the students who stop by on spring break come in to see me. Because I have.

You can't put a price tag on that.

#6 Dwelling on difficulties -- 

I used to do this.  I used to worry about all the stuff that could go wrong.  But I've let that go.  I just wish I could remember how I did it or why.

That's what will be interesting about the movement to 1:1.  Some will dwell only on the difficulties, and that's too bad because this is a real opportunity.

Yet, we need folks to dwell on the difficulties (though not solely on the difficulties) because there are people like me who will dwell on the positives!

Here's an example - Mr. Zutz has created a Google Doc for all of us at LHS where we can list questions or concerns about 1:1.

Since he declared this, I've been thinking about things to put on there.  I've been dwelling on the negatives

The first one that came to mind was if our desktops are replaced by MacBook Airs, what about subs?  (and this is coming from someone who has missed numerous days this year because of sick kids).

But before I put it down on the Google Doc, it hit me, well, until a few weeks ago, my subs never even used my computer! (I did learn, though, that subs have a special username and password that they can use to log in to our computers).

Then I thought, but what if we are showing a film when we are gone?

Then I thought, well maybe it's a good thing we don't show films when we're gone.  Instantly, I thought of the old cliche (and how true it is, I don't rightfully know) of just having subs show movies while we are gone.

Where is the educational value in that?  Or are we just filling time.  What would the tax payers think of that use of tax dollars (without or without the move to 1:1)?

Maybe that negative really is a positive.  Besides, with a true 1:1 environment, it really isn't that hard to conduct class even when I'm home with sick kids.  I've done it before with my students and their cell phones.  In fact, I'm doing it right now as my CC 2 students are texting me questions and observations and signing up for presentations next week.  So hopefully 1:1 will render having to show films irrelevant.

The bottom-line for me is simple: I'll gladly work around all of the negatives that the MacBook Airs impose on me just to have a chance to explore what we can learn together with a 1:1 environment.


The 10 Skills Modern Teachers Must Have

How many do you have?


The next adventure: digital story telling.  Speaking of trying something new without fear, I've always wanted to try digital storytelling or digital narratives, but I haven't been able to.  Perhaps this guide will kick start me in the right directions.

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