Back Channel: http://todaysmeet.com/BLC11Studentlegacy
21st Century Skills
|Implementing 21st Century Skills||
It's Thursday night and Garth and I had a pretty good presentation this morning. Right now we are listening to Dr. Wolfram talk about the work of his company, Wolfram. Dr. Wolfram has been showing the audience one of three projects he and his team completed, Mathmatica. What an amazing program. The flexibility and range of applications of this program is staggering. So what is Mathmatica? Well, here is my simplified answer...It solves and shows you math problems. That being said, using the software people can design moving shapes, test how shapes and computer code will act, create very complex movements (possibly of machines), etc.
Dr. Wolfram was quick to point out that he is not a teacher and did not design any of his software for educational use. BUT he does support using his programs to teach kids math and science. It is very refreshing to hear a keynote speaker at an educational conference own the fact he does not teach/work in a school. It becomes very frustrating when people spend an hour talking about the change that needs to happen in education and they do not even work directly with kids. Dr. Wolfram recognizes and addressed the fact that he builds software and supports the people that have ideas about how to use it in the classroom. Mathmatica and Wolframalpha.com will inevitably change how math is taught in schools. The hope is that teachers began to use a more creative, problem-based approach to teaching math. Otherwise students will solve all of their homework questions via sites like Wolframalpha, but they will not have any idea how to use these problems based in reality.
New Applications for wolframalpha: http://products.wolframalpha.com/iphone/
Other Applications: http://products.wolframalpha.com/mobile/
Genealogy and History: http://products.wolframalpha.com/personalapps/genealogyhistory.html
Follow the GoogleDoc link below to communication and collaborate with people in your session and all the other sessions too! At the end we will all have a free set of "notes" on each and every session. Free download a
BLC (Building Learning Communities) '11 started with Dr. Eric Mazur's talk: "The Tyranny of The Lecture". You can see his talk now live at: http://is.gd/mjObSb Several sessions will be streamed live each day. Join if you can. Mike and I will have both our live sessions streamed. We hope you can join and join the back channel from anywhere in the world http://todaysmeet.com/BLC11StudentLegacy
Dr. Mazur spoke about getting away from what he calls "the tyranny of the lecture". Very interesting discussion from a college professor who has revolutionized the way in which he approaches teaching at the university level. "Go from being the sage on stage to the guy on the side".
Dr. Mazur: "We all want our students to stand on our shoulders [and] solve the problems that have not been solved before". This keynote really addresses what Garth and I have talked about in the past; connecting learning with the "real-world". Dr. Mazur wants students' lives to reflect the learning process and take the experiences of life with them everywhere to become successful people. Dr. Mazur also spoke about notes and reading happening outside of the classroom...basically flip-teaching started 20 years ago. Check out our blog posts about using Computer-Side chats with students.
Eschool News Reports
This blog will refer to these other blogs: http://www.teachersfortomorrow.net/1/category/homework/1.html
Mike and I have talked about not giving homework during this last school year many times. It all began in Sept of 2010, when we first brought up the craziness of homework. It stemmed from the idea that students would do poorly in class by not doing homework and the homework had no real bearing on the content they were learning. To make matters more difficult, we would hear the stories of what some students lives were like at home; and frankly how they could not do homework while caring for younger brothers or sisters, making meals, all the sports, theater, etc... Kids don't have time to be kids. I buy that. I watched my own kids face this. My oldest daughter was in the theater this last year. She had a key part and loved to "act". This was big, but so was softball and school. She would go to play practice from 4:00-6:30 and then head to softball, usually eating in the car, (two days a week) from 7:00-8:30. Then get home about 8:45-50 and she needs to be up to get on the bus at 7:10. Homework was not our friend during this time.
Mike went to a no homework policy and I went to homework once in a while. However, both of our homework was not the normal, "read pages 345-351 and answer these questions." No, we thought about what we really wanted kids to learn and asked the WONDERING type of questions. The type of questions with no real answer, but made my students think and wonder about the world around them or the content they were learning and how that content applied to the world around them. Or we gave them mini lectures (flipped teaching) to listen to outside of class, so that class-time would be used for work, not listening to me or Mike talk about information.
In today's world, I just think we have to rethink our homework policy and grading system to better reflect this world. It looks as if L.A. Schools did just that, Check out this link: http://is.gd/0nD6Tn. I want to thank markbarnes19 and mgerbrick on twitter for sending me this link. Thanks for sharing.
It is time for you to rethink your homework policy?
In the podcast below Garth and I discuss a few of the things that surprised us this year. 3 major topics discussed was the success of using role playing in the Middle Ages WebQuest, The discussion of positive digital footprints throughout the school year and the passage of Senate Bill 5.
During the Middle Ages WebQuest we gave students a social class from the Middle Ages and then allowed students to create the story of their character. The students used their characters to gain empathy about life in the Middle Ages. Students followed their characters through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance and Reformation. Students responded on end-of-the-year surveys that they enjoyed having a character to follow through the story of world history. Garth and I plan on expanding this idea and allowing students to learn the story of history through the eyes of a character throughout the entire school year.
Garth tells a story about a students who gets a FaceBook account and takes criticism from his classmates for using complete sentences and proper grammar. When asked why he was being so conscientious about what he posted, he said "I want to leave a positive digital footprint". It's great to know that students are taking away such important concepts from our class. Here is a students that not only wants to leave a positive digital footprint, but stands up to his friends when they question why he cares so much.
As for SB5, Garth and I were pleased to see so many people stand in support of teachers and really question the motives/effects of such a sweeping change; getting rid of collective bargaining. Below are a few links to information about SB5
SB5 via the State of Ohio Legislature
OEA Senate Bill 5 Central
Today Garth and I discuss how to get teachers more involved with technology. We look at the idea of getting teachers to use tech in their personal lives and then transfer that usage/knowledge to the classroom. We both agree that smart phones seem to be the way everything is going. Both Garth's wife and my wife recently upgraded to smartphones and we both noticed an instant attachment to the technology. My wife started a Facebook account, Garth's wife will hopefully answer email more quickly and all of us see how having technology changes how you interact with the world.
For more on mobile technology, check out the links below...
Cell Phone Blogs from the Past