28 February 2008

US Dept of Ed - reinventing approach to education?

Straight from the top – US Department of Education is promoting the Equipped For the Future (EFF) program which is based on constructivism – an active process of knowledge construction allowing learners to use prior knowledge to shape meaning of today’s’ experiences and therefore acquire new knowledge.

I think this reading will benefit a teacher or parent in any country. To me, this program, if implemented correctly, will turn the tide and immensely benefit K-12 education.

Not to worry, the docs below are fairly easy reads. What are your thoughts about them?

A Purposeful and Transparent Approach to Teaching and Learning

Summarizes the research basis for "a purposeful and transparent approach to learning", the first key research principle underlying the Equipped for the Future system reform initiative.

EFF Research Principle: An Approach To Teaching And Learning That Builds Expertise: EFF Research To Practice
Describes how research findings related to building expertise have been applied to the development of the Equipped for the Future (EFF) Content Framework and assessment system.

A Contextualized Approach To Curriculum And Instruction: EFF Research To Practice
Identifies the research basis for a contextualized approach to teaching and learning, the third concept underlying the Equipped for the Future (EFF) system reform initiative.

Transformation: Reform Spotlight: Research + Policy + Practice = Transformed Schools
Reviews research concerning sustaining comprehensive school reform. This publication examines the policy implications of research on school transformation.

27 February 2008

Five top resources: service learning

Service learning provides time for students to work with each other and their hands to learn skills, understand social responsibility, and live their education. In a nutshell, this learning reaches beyond the textbook and builds essential life skills. Here are my five top resources:

5. Points of Light
Extensive information about volunteering that may not necessarily be involved with schools. However, the site does provide extensive resources: local; national; international; and faith based, that is organized by categories:

Assessment,Communications, Leadership Technology, Organization Management, Partnership Development, Risk Management, Targeted Volunteer, Engagement, Volunteer Management, and Volunteer Service Models

National Service Learning Partnership
A national network of members dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person's education. Service-learning is a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies or other type of intentional learning activity. This site has hundreds of free documents and papers to help educate yourself and others about service learning. Join their national network for free.

3. Learn and Serve Clearinghouse
Excellent site to understand what service learning is all about. There is plenty of good information to educate and link up organizations, including detailed student efforts underway. The site is split up into age groups which will help teachers better define appropriate material. If you are new or old to service learning there’s content to help you move your ideas/projects forward. Here are some of my favorite publications and there're many more:

- Guidebook for introducing service learning
- Faculty/Staff Toolkit for understand service learning
- K-12 Serve Learning Project Planning
- Partnerships For After-School Success Tool Kits

2. Reach Every Child
Excellent resource for every subject taught in K-12; provides loads of web sites with notes on how those sites can be used in service learning projects. This is the best site where teachers can get some comprehensive resources for integrating lessons around service learning.

1. Facing the Future
This organization offers curriculum, teacher workshops, and service learning opportunities to create and maintain positive, healthy and sustainability communities. The material is designed by and for teachers, and focuses on bringing critical thinking about global issues to students in every content area. They have some free downloads for high school that are units,
get them here. The textbooks they offer must be purchased. The lesson and curriculum are matched to state and national standards here. They have a database of action oriented projects with domestic and worldwide information located here. This is a comprehensive site that will definitely get you educated and enable you to move forward with lessons and some action ideas too.

What is/are your favorite resource(s)?

25 February 2008

Top three components to build knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is accomplished with pedagogy. I think we’ll all agree that some degree of conceptual understanding is the goal of every lesson, and that in order to accurately measure the success of a lesson: 1) objectives must be clearly defined and presented beforehand and 2) at least one assessment is completed during the course of each lesson. It’s also worth mentioning the lesson map, no matter how well designed, to accomplish transfer of knowledge isn’t carved in stone and is best approached in a fluid manner.

3. Responsibility:
Students must be presented with some level of ownership to the material in a lesson. There are different levels of responsibility depending on the work at hand. For example, at the assignment level a rubric is required to define the expectation from student participation. When looking at the lecture/discussion level of responsibility, it's not enough to throw out information and expect students to lap it up, like a dog at the water bowl. Instead, information must be presented in such a way as to have students recognize their responsibility (emotional or social and so forth) and realize they need to step up to it. Yet, with other assignments the responsibility will arise during the course of the work on the project as in a project based environment or a service learning project. Along the way, one of the teachers’ responsibilities is to provide students with some clear signals as to what is expected in order for them to succeed at each responsibility level. I think it’s clear that as teachers support students growing their responsibility in a lesson - we also supporting them in building fundamental life skills.

2. Methods of teaching:
Teachers must continuously adapt methods used in teaching. A lecture style method used last year may not work this year. A slide presentation used for one topic may be the wrong method for teaching another topic. Teaching methods are the bag of tricks teachers use; we must get a whole lot more creative with those tricks to capture our student's attention span. One do: use as much technology as possible in lessons - like it or not technology is here to stay. One dont': never use the lecture method to deliver content for more than 30% of a class session. Teachers, we owe it to our students to get more professional development in methods and in integrating technology in lessons.

1. Measuring success:
Assessments are required to understand student learning. I'm not talking about worksheets: true/false, multiple choice or matching. Those are useful for a more long term focus. In the short term, during each lesson an assessment of some sort is necessary. There are two essential segments of a well designed assessment: 1) time for student reflection and 2) clear prompts. The reflection segment is giving students time to summarize their understanding and it can take different forms:

- writing in a journal
- talking in pairs/small groups
- reviewing notes

The clear prompt and response can also take different forms:

- specific question with written answer individually or collaboratively
- producing a graphic organizer: venn diagram, frayer model
- using white boards to draw ideas or model
- verbal discussion in class where teacher facilitates or directs students participation

What are your ideas?

Top five: revitalizing K-12 pedagogy

Teaching isn’t a job, it’s an excursion to train future leaders of our world.

Here’s my top five “musts” for teacher lessons to maximize student engagement: create learning opportunities.

5. Meaningful Content:
The context here is the wrapper that content is presented with: it must touch the life of students – in one way or another. As a student, would you pay attention to what is presented in class if no one told you the “why”? I wouldn’t. The job of an educator is the knowledge expert – absolutely, but that job also includes developing a “wrapper,” which can take many forms: story, presentation, or activity. Technology is interesting wrapper for any subject or concept, we have to realize that students today spend more and more time using technology. The content wrapper must capture their attention.

4. Peer Interaction:
There is plenty of research that demonstrates serious learning takes place when peers communication – connect. In this simple communication so much takes place: understanding, confidence in content comprehension, building social skills, and even argumentation skills. Every lesson – every day – must include some level of verbally working with other class mates. It can be paired sharing; it could be class discussion facilitated by the teacher or even table discussion that is then presented to class. Something as simple as a “ticket out the door” where students must talk to another student, then say one thing that student learned and one question they have about content covered today. This communication between students will also help build a “safer” class environment as students feel more at ease with each other.

3. Learning Confirmation:
Each class must have one pit stop where there is time for students to get a check on their comprehension of the material provided so far in the lesson. Going on and on in class with no learning check can lead a student to being overwhelmed. This check is really a vote, “Thumbs up if you agree with this statement”. There is nothing wrong with two/three checks per lesson. Another example is a short reflection period on one or more prompts, giving students a writing moment, then picking a few students to say what they wrote.

2. Do It:
Whether the class is doing history, math, or science students NEED an opportunity to do what is being taught. Students today are so active and creative. They NEED an outlet to express themselves. Again, this can be as simple as making a non-verbal drawing to a prompt the teacher provides. A complex level is providing time for them to design and/or build a model from a rubric provided. The possibilities here are completely adjustable to your lesson time and requirements. The point is, students must have some extended time to focus at least four of their senses (touching, seeing, hearing, talking, thinking) on the material to absorb it.

1. Promote Success:
Every student must get some positive feedback once a day. There is too much bad in the world, which begins in the hall outside of class. Acknowledge their effort. Let them hear some praise. Find something good about the class and speak it. One example, tell students, after the bell rings to signal the end of class, what a terrific job they did in focusing today and then dismiss them. Yes, it’s that easy.

23 February 2008

Covers any Standard in your curriculum

Here is an excellent method for extending learning in any topic: communication. Whether we like it or not, technology does give us greater access to more types of communication. Teachers, now you can put communication to work in your lesson plan, fulfilling those Standards and giving your students the opportunity to talk around the world.

The 2008 series of iNet student online conferences, titled “Whose World is it Anyway?” is available for primary and secondary students around the world to debate issues. The discussions are focused on the work the students have contributed; however, students do not have to submit anything to participate in the message board. Students from many countries participate, though all conversations take place in English.

Themes ranging from technology to climate change are run throughout the semester, allowing students to express their opinions on one topic a month. Students are also encouraged to submit creative works such as poems, videos, and websites around a monthly theme. Teachers can register their class, or students can register themselves. Registrants will receive confirmation and reminder e-mails before the message board opens.

22 February 2008

Pedagogy: service based learning (SBL) in action

Today we hear a lot about the "bad" in the world. Sometimes I think high school students are enamored with violence. Many can recall the details of a fight at lunch easier than recalling the meaning of "fat from calories" on a nutrition label. Which is more important to them?

I think service based learning (SBL) is a method that can collectively teach about different subjects, without a big strain on the teacher or student time. There is no longer any doubt, more and more research is illustrating the positive impact of service learning on student education, along with benefits to the schools and communities receiving the service.

The United Nations (UN) has a one billion tree program in 2008. At any K-12 campus students can plant a tree and then be a part of this global effort. During the tree planting they study:
1) types of tress for a certain habitat (ecology),

water and sun requirements (photosynthesis),
reading, 4) writing (purchase the appropriate tree and to complete reports required to plant tree on school grounds),
5) math in different ways: tree purchase, measuring the hole for tree, watering the tree, combining water and fertilizer,
6) communication/responsibility during the project (life skill).

Environmental Defense has a program for using with SBL: make the switch. In this one students can again be part of a global effort
as homework. This one reduces carbon emissions by replacing regular light bulbs with ecofriendly bulbs. IAs a participant, students are including science (global warming, electricity), math (bulb watt, electric bill), and geography (countries of the world). During the course of the project they will be doing different life skills: talking to others about the bulbs and why they are doing this work (environmental stewardship), and interacting with others to identify and replace bulbs (social skills).

SBL is flexible program to allow students the experience of doing something rewarding and personally satisfying .... at school.

Have any other ideas or resources for SBL?

20 February 2008

Rich curriculum - got one?

Well, I could explain a rich curriculum, but then you and I'd probably both get bored and miss part of the details. Take seven minutes from a busy day, I promise it'll be fun and worthwhile as you thoughtfully watch this concise and well mastered video clip. Enjoy!

19 February 2008

Pedagogy: project based learning (PBL) in action

Today many teachers, like myself, find ourselves teaching to the test - Criteria Reference Test: CRT- because administrators think the combination of a pacing calendar and standardize lesson will produce improved test scores. On the other hand, project based learning (PBL) focuses on growing the student interest with learning opportunities that involve action, materials and core concepts. I think the best of both worlds is a standardized lesson that supports teachers using PBL.

PBL works great for me. An elementary teacher in FL challenges students to use certain groupings of coins to buy items from the classroom store as a playful and engaging way for them to meet state first-grade curriculum standards for learning coin values and equivalences. PBL engages students using the proven method of constructivism and enables students to apply concepts in real time about what they're studying.

Got 9 minutes? Check out this PBL video clip in primary and secondary education. You can see student interviews and hear from the experts ...... well worth your time.

MIT distinguished professor Seymour Papert is among a growing group of scholars who support project-based learning, in which students move from hands-on work to abstract thinking by solving real-world problems. See the video clip.

18 February 2008

How much have you reading recently?

Clearly, an issue that's near and dear to all of us ... what does the future hold?

I was reading a recent National Endowment for the Art research report: To Read or Not to Read, November, 2007. I like to read but not as frequently and it seems I'm not alone. It seems young people and adults are reading less too. The below percentages have decreased since the last time this data was collected for a report published five years ago.

Age ............% reading a book for fun
18-24 ........52
25-34........ 59
35-44........ 59

But these percentages aren't bad - are they? The majority of people are reading something for fun.

As a teacher it's impossible for me to motivate students to read. I can assign it and still most students won't read. I think reading is a cultivated skill, like drinking coffee or using hot sauce.
The results of this report didn't bother me until I read the indicators around employment.....

- 38% of employers find high school graduates “deficient” in reading comprehension,
while 63% rate this basic skill “very important.”
- One in five U.S. workers read at a lower skill level than their job requires.
- in 2003 70% of adults contacted said that their reading skill is below their job requirements.

Now that scares me. If those adults are saying that today, then what are we going to be saying in 20 years when the teenagers now are the adults? Yet, what can we do to inspire students to care to read?

From the report there were some straightforward findings .....
- students who read for fun just once or twice a week score significantly higher in tests
- student who have books in the home are more likely to read more often

Despite the range of employer-respondents, a clear majority viewed two basic skills
as “very important” for new workforce entrants, regardless of education level those
skills are reading and writing.

We have to get back to the basics in K-12 schools. Improving reading and writing is bound to positively impact all the other subjects, along with producing life skills as pointed out by this report.

Read the report here.

17 February 2008

Make Your Own Report

Yesterday someone sent me an email to tell me about a few web sites where report cards can be completed. To me their intention was to alert me about the site so I can then tell my readers, fair enough. But, I have report cards that like better right here on my site. That email did help me remember I should tell you about them so here is my plug ....

My reports cards are unique and comprehensive, not a checklist. I want the 411 so please use then to tell me the scoop. I'll keep what you say in confidence. Use 'em all or just one or two.

At my site, on this page, you can create a free account.

BTW, if you complete reports cards we'll send you free pencil. I have to admit we are back logged on getting those out but you WILL get yours. If you tell your friends about the report cards I'll send you a nice pen.

Login using that free account and you can complete these type of report cards:

If you're a K-12 teacher complete a report card on....
- Teacher Grading Administrative Team
- Class Education Quality
- Technology in Education
- Curriculum & Assessment Teachers
- Teacher Report on Student
- Teacher Report on Parent

If you're a K-12 parent complete a report card on....
- Parent Grading Teacher
- Parent Grading Administrative Team

If you're an K-12 student complete a report card on....
- Student Grading Teacher
- Class Education Quality
- Technology in Education
- Curriculum & Assessment Students

I look forward to hearing from you.

15 February 2008

Reports Are telling, Are They Directional?

Yes, there are dozens of reports publishes about segments of teaching or on specific assessments to measure teaching. Yet, what are we left with to direct us to improve education?

Where are the improvement committees and how did they get there? At the high school where I teach is a committee to collect improvement ideas and discuss them. There are students, administrators and teachers on the committee. In AZ I know the Governor has assembled a committee, but without researching it I'm not sure who is on it or what they have accomplished. On the national level, I’m pretty sure the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the driving force to improve education. You can find that web site here.

The measurement to determine if education is improving mandated by NCLB is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP is determined by each state and implemented using student assessments each state produces. AYP is an individual state's measure of progress toward the goal of 100 percent of students achieving to state academic standards in at least reading/language arts and math. It sets the minimum level of proficiency that the state, its school districts, and schools must achieve each year on annual tests and related academic indicators. Parents whose children are attending Title I (low-income) schools that do not make AYP over a period of years are given options to transfer their child to another school or obtain free tutoring (supplemental educational services).

I keep asking myself what is missing in the process that determines if education is being improved. NCLB spent 21 billion dollars in 2007. The states spent that money, plus more tax revenue from their residents. Yet, in the USA, we still have the result of a whopping 75%+ of students not being proficient at reading and math in the 8th grade. How can the majority of students not be proficient? Something is wrong and I'm not sure anyone has identified what that is. So how do we get there?

One idea, form regional blue ribbon panels from educators and students. Have those committees compile suggestions and recommendations at that region, then take the regions lists and compile a national education priority objective list. From that list of objectives, strategies can be mapped and put on a time line. Notice that we don't have politicians in the mix? We need the education experts and participators to uncover the tasks and milestones necessary to improve K-12 education.

The big difference for me in the objective list is to focus on methods of teaching rather than what content needs to be taught. I think that when appropriate methods are used in teaching, then students are engaged, then they will learn whatever the content is.

13 February 2008

What is progress for USA students?

The US Department of Education released a new report: Mapping America's Educational Progress 2008. I learned a few things reading it. My big question ... How come we settle for less when it comes to the results of educating our future leaders of the world?

One example comes to mind, the Super Bowl. Millions of dollars spent to produce a game making the owners of the team and their association tons of money. A nation attention on a sport that is played by a few... leaving youg students in their impressionable years longing to be like their sport stars/heros. Yet, what does this support contribute to education of K-12 students? Again, I want to raise the flag for FIRST, which is an organization dedicated to student education that promotes student competitions using real life applications in science and math PLUS technology: robotics. Check them out at their web site.

Here are some facts from that new education report, which in me stirs up an keener interest in focusing more on national education than national sports.... with those millions of dollars. Am I over simplifying things again?

1. It's now six years after No Child Left Behind's (NCLB) passage – and midway to the nation's goal of having students on grade level or better in reading and math by 2014 – we have collected more data than ever before about the academic performance of our students and schools. This information enables charting of individual states and the nation to map a course of action for future progress.

2. There are 49,676,000 K-12 students in 2005-06
3. There are 98,980 K-12 schools
4. he number of schools making Adequate Yearly Progress is 70%
5. Money spent on NCLB in 2007 was $21,786,000,000
6. Number of 8th graders in Reading at Proficient level is 29%
7. Number of 8th graders in Math at Proficient level is 32%

Wait, the taxpayers spent 21 billion dollars to fund NCLB in 2007. What did we get back on that investment?

The fact is, a whooping 75%+ of students ARE NOT proficient at reading and math in the 8th grade ... so how do we expect them to be ready in high school to dig and be successful at college prep studies .... so we can have universities producing those engineers and professionals our society desperately needs?

Do you have any ideas on the fix?

Read the report
- Mapping educational progress state by state in 2008

12 February 2008

Is the scope of K-12 education shifting?

What do education, information and globalization have in common? Take 3 minutes to watch this insightful clip and you have a different perspective on the short and long term future - I promise.

If you are a teacher like me, I think this video will rock you. I came away wondering .... "What am I preparing my students for - really?" After watching this I am steering the scope of my teaching to take a turn as I shake my head in sheer awe.....

11 February 2008

K-12 Teacher Salary Analysis

This is the most inclusive report I can find that compares K-12 teacher salaries, benefits and pensions to other industries, along with comparing teachers state to state. It was compiled in 2005 by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

I wanted to get this posted today because I have received many requests, since my blog yesterday on teacher salaries, for more detailed info.

Read the full report here.

Number Crunching K-12 Teachers & Schools in USA

The National Education Association (NEA) has produced the 2007 projections and estimates for K-12 schools in the USA. While the report is filled with excellent research, some digestion is required to absorb what the numbers are saying. Here are some highlights:

- The highest number of students enrolled per teacher in public elementary and secondary schools in fall 2005: Arizona (21.8), Utah (21.3), California (21.0), Oregon (19.8), and Washington (19.3).

- The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2005–06 was $49,026. State average public school teacher salaries ranged from those in California ($59,825), Connecticut ($59,304), and District of Columbia ($59,000) at the high end to South Dakota ($34,709), North Dakota ($37,764), and West Virginia ($38,284) at the low end.

- Based on trends, the NEA estimated that the average classroom teacher salary for 2006–07 would increase by 3.7 percent over 2005–06, from $49,026 to $50,816. The national average salary, although useful as a benchmark statistic,

- School funding continues to be state-oriented, although the federal share increased somewhat in recent years.

Read the full report here.

09 February 2008

Nominate Best Education Resources

An important part of reforming K-12 education is getting the word out about quality education resources. What is a quality K-12 education resource? To me this "quality education" resource fits within these parameters:

1. The materials/services are based on recognized Standards.
2. The materials/services offered include some aspect of a project based learning approach for students and teachers.
3. The materials/services offered are meaningful to students because the concepts being learned apply to the students’ immediate environment.
4. When students use the materials/services there will be opportunities for some degree of peer to peer exchange.
5. The materials/services include more than three aspects of character building opportunities which support students being better global citizens.
6. Environmental education or projects are included in the content.

I am asking you to send me information/links to sites that you think qualify for this award. The Education Reporting, Inc. (ERI) research team will then review your nomination. If the resource qualifies ERI will award them the Best Education Resource recognition. You can send your nomination (URL/links) to services@educationreporting.com or simply add them as a comment to this post.

Thanks in advance for supporting quality education.

PS: please don’t send sites that are just lesson plans .... those don’t qualify for this type of award.

07 February 2008

Pedagogy: reinvent classrooms using simple technology

This year's Horizon Project report identified the emerging trends, but what does that mean to a middle school or high school teacher and class? I think these trends translate into tools .... opportunities for engagement. How? Let's start with a basic approach:

Grassroots video:
Most schools have some video equipment that can be used by any class. At the very least students have cellphones with a camera that does rapid photos or a video. Teachers, put together a simple assignment - to start with - that students capture and bring back to class. The way they deliver it to you will vary, the simplest might be they email you the files and then you display them using a LCD projector connected to your computer.

English class: have them capture a conversation of language you are studying in class
Science class: capture an example of characteristic that describes a living thing

Collaboration webs:
Since we are just beginning, let's start with a blog. Many blogs are free to teachers and classes. Teachers can post a weekly assignment where student log into the blog and study a web site or web pages(s) to reveal solutions to the assignment. Students record their findings in the blog under the appropriate weekly assignment.

Mobile broadband:
Set up work or a specific assignment that requires students to use a cell phone. Here is a math class example, divide the class into groups of three or four students. Have the groups arrange a time after school to work on an assignment. Give each group a different problem to solve. Have the individuals in each group assign them self a number - 1, 2, 3 4 and so forth. tell the groups to start with #1 and have that person do the first step of the problem and call student #2 with the answer. Then #2 will use that answer to do step two and then call #3, who will complete step three and then call #4 and so forth. This process continues until the problem is solved. The last student in the group brings the solution and to class for discussion.

Data mashups:
In this trend the students can compile data from different sources in a PowerPoint file, or a free goggle application, to substantiate an investigation. For example in a history class studying World War II, have students break into groups and give each group a different concept or subject to study about the war or events leading up to it. The groups compile that information, text and images, into the PowerPoint file/presentation. The finished presentation is saved as self running presentation that anyone can view.

Collective intelligence:
Publication of data takes place here, which is accomplished in a blog that we discussed earlier or in the PowerPoint presentation file that gets distributed. Another way to accomplish this is to collaborate information by using an application like Google docs. In that application a document/file can be shared with with multiple people who all have access to edit the content. Google docs are available for free to people who have an email account with Google: gmail.com.

Social operating systems:
This may be the most difficult one to establish with one class. Since the theme is connecting people with common interests, the first step is establishing those common interests among students, then producing a medium where the individuals can communicate with other students having similar interests. A tool to facilitate the communication is a blog, wiki, or a monitored forum and all of those are free.

Here are resources for free tools:

Google Apps
Google Earth
Web Page




05 February 2008

Motivate students with project based learning

Imagine a classroom where students use real world examples to illustrate understanding of core concepts.

In project-based learning, students try to answer a question -- one that has relevance for them -- that is greater than the immediate task at hand. In its book Connecting the Bits, the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education gives the example of students at a Kentucky elementary school conducting surveys, doing research, building models, and taking field trips with the goal of determining the best kind of new bridge to build over the Ohio River.

Students conduct research using a variety of sources, from the Internet to interviews with experts. They work on the project over an extended period of time -- six weeks or more -- because of the in-depth nature of the investigation. Like adults trying to solve a problem, they don't restrict themselves to one discipline but delve into math, literature, history, science -- whatever is appropriate to the study.

Seymour Papert, renowned expert on children and computing, why students are turned off by school, and he quickly offers an example:

"We teach numbers, then algebra, then calculus, then physics. Wrong!" exclaims the Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician and pioneer in Artificial Intelligence. "Start with engineering, and from that abstract out physics, and from that abstract out ideas of calculus, and eventually separate off pure mathematics. So much better to have the first-grade kid or kindergarten kid doing engineering and leave it to the older ones to do pure mathematics than to do it the other way around."

In a growing number of schools, educators are echoing Papert's assertion that engaging students by starting with the concrete and solving hands-on, real-world problems is a great motivator. Ultimately, they say, such project-based learning that freely crosses disciplines provides an education superior to the traditional "algebra at age nine, Civil War at ten, Great Expectations at eleven" structure.

I realize that enthusiasm alone isn't enough of a justification to advocate project-based learning, but the results of that enthusiasm argue in its favor, say educators and researchers who have studied or used project-based learning.

Some information for this article was obtained at Edutopia.

Pedagogy: reinvent secondary education with emerging trends

Like it or not teaching never stays the same. Sure the methods do: collaboration, engagement, and assessment to name a few. But, you have to admit that collaboration, engagement, and assessment today mean different things than they did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. For example, today students can be engaged by collaborating in an online project together to study significant concepts in any content area. That material will also include an assessment where the teacher grades student responses and then send the feedback directly to the student – all done online.

The recently released Horizon Project report has identified the emerging trends, which are essential to reinventing the classroom. I think teachers will do well to gear up by using these trends in their teaching. In fact, teachers must begin integrating these trends in order to keep pace with student interest and also to better prepare students skills for well meaning careers. The trends are….

Grassroots video: this is easy to do since even a simple cell phone now produces a decent video clip.

Collaboration webs: this is already available in online projects that are free: TELS and WISE.

Mobile broadband: there is one cell phone per every six people on the planet … that is a lot of phones. Yes, imagine the interest in class of allowing students to use cell phones to complete an assignment.

Data mashups: compiling data from different sources into one application doesn’t require extensive resources or programming.

Collective intelligence: an example of this is your class assembling what they have learned and publishing it.

Social operating systems: networks created around people versus the networks today created by focusing on content.

In the next couple of days I will review my ideas on how to put these trends to work in a classroom. What are yours?

03 February 2008

Pedagogy: Teacher tools to reinvent a classroom

Teachers must make sure students are technology savvy when they arrive to embark on a career or even higher education. The perfect method seems to be using it as much as possible in class and providing opportunities to let students use it - hands on.

Merlot is an excellent technology resource for students and teachers. It provides lesson material, but not in lesson plan style. You can actually do some decent research in what they provide. BTW, I hate all those lesson plan websites - what a dumb idea. Teachers who need help creating a lesson plan need a new career....my two cents worth. Students can do comprehensive searches on specific words and find info/resources I didn't find on Google or Yahoo.

The two sections I use most are "communities" and "learning material." Communities has four distinct groups. The "disciplines" community includes educators, topics covering everything from biology to statistics to teacher education, with some fairly detailed resources that I haven't found anywhere else. Another community covers learning material, which includes a peer review rating, five stars max, so you can see what other people, like you, think about the content. Not bad. I haven't seen that peer review feature anywhere else.

Another good thing, membership to Merlot is free. :-)

The annual conference is ....

MERLOT – Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching
8th International Conference
August 7 – 10, 2008
Minneapolis Hilton

I am thinking this site works for teacher education or as a web quest research for students. Let me know if you have used it ......

Secondary teachers need to reinvent the classroom

Over the years the methods for teaching classes has improved as Professional Learning Communities and other focused efforts have been put into place. In different articles I read about teachers not making an effort to do more to improve student grades, which I think is unjustly stated. Teachers must deal with so much more than just delivering a lesson in the course of an hour, or whatever the length of a class period is. I think we need to support teachers in using technology to maximize their teaching skills and expand student collaboration.

I don't like using the text book in my class, except as a reference. I wonder why teachers use it at all. The computer has so many more quality resources; an example is Wikipedia. Its' versatility includes multiple languages and content that drills down on the basic concepts. Teachers, who have had some training or already understand technology, can create their own wikipedia and build it to host class content from year to year.

I wonder what would happen if 1) the school districts stopped buying textbooks and invested that money in $100 laptops for students, 2) trained teachers in using technology like wikipedia, and 3) hosted ongoing paid professional development courses to support teachers in enhancing their technology skills in using these tools?

I betcha, in the long run, the districts will realize an overall in reduction of expenses while also supporting teachers in maximizing technology .... plus making sure students are more equipped to live in their technology driven society.