Friday, June 29, 2012

Worth Reading...

Sharing some articles I enjoyed reviewing this week.

1. The Needle Moves Away From Schools Some More (Richardson)- what messages do we want to send home to parents

In our “Welcome Back!” letters this fall, what if we hammered home the idea that command of facts and figures and knowledge and test scores tell us very little any more as to whether or not their children have the literacies and dispositions to flourish in this “new” world of access? 

2.  Post-Its... Real World Motivators- what types of questions are being considered in the classroom; those that are Googleable or Not Googleable?

Student write boundless questions about what they wanted to know about iconography and religious art. Those students that don’t usually contribute were happy to fill many post-its, as the list were anonyms. Students were motivated by the post-its…it became a competition as to how many questions could be asked. Spelling, punctuation was overlooked for quality concepts in questions.

3. Education: The Past, The Present and The Future #2 (White)- discusses the new pillars of education and existing in a world where expertise is abundant

and in Pillar 3, Assessment, the Pillar is actually Doing–using what you know and what you can learn from the Internet, your network and local and global resources to mix, remix, create content and do something that adds value to our world.

The days of childhood to explore and learn about the wonder of the world and to see how wonderfully you could fit into it are replaced with school, where learning about the world becomes a burden and where you’re told where you fit into the world. When you’re fifteen, you’re legally stuck in the 9th grade while at the same age, Ben Franklin, for example, was already apprenticing for his brother’s newspaper. The brightest kids of our nation, the would-be Benjamin Franklins, are having their potential strangled by the state, who is setting their goals for them.

5. How to Use Video Game Tactics in the Classroom (Andersen)

Views From the Inside

I want to thank Marie Pfeifer for her excellent coverage of Classics Academy Night in her article From killer tunics to The Killers, Classics Academy blends ancient and modern at Morristown High.  The article posted on the Morristown Green website detailed the senior theme-based Academy and purpose behind Classics Night.  What's engaging about Ms. Pfeifer's article is that students were provided a vehicle to share their views about the program.  All of the students were interviewed and several of their comments were included in the piece.

Classics Night provides each student in the Academy the chance to publicly address the following core question:

In what way or ways is my present contingent on my individual and humankind’s collective past?

Students are presented with a blank slate as to how they address the Academy's overarching question.  Like last year's Classics Night, members of the audience were treated to a diverse range of endeavors.  In addition to the projects and performances several students choose to read prepared remarks as a way to further explain their interpretations.  The remarks excerpted in the article speak to the benefits of situating learners in cross-disciplinary environments.  Just take a minute to reflect on the core question.  How would you respond and how would you go about demonstrating your interpretation?  Classics Night is the culmination of positioning students to be creative, to think critically, to consider competing perspectives, to construct complex understandings and to defend a position in a public forum.  This is evident when you reflect on the perspectives shared by our Classic Students such as the following from Alice Feldman:

A quote from Kurt Vonnegut sparked my thinking about the resounding meaning of words. He writes, “Socrates says ‘to be is to do,’ Sartre says ‘to do is to be’ and Sinatra sings, ‘Do Be Do Be Do.”

I laughed after reading those lines, who wouldn’t? But the validity of Vonnegut’s message stuck with me. Everything that we say or do is bound to be misunderstood; and how likely is it that everything we say or write is truly an accurate reflection of what we meant to say, or indeed what we even thought at all?

Friday, June 22, 2012

What's More Inviting?

I was thinking about the impact the environment has on learning and wanted to share the following thought from the video game developer Valve:

Why does your desk have wheels?  Think of wheels as a symbolic reminder that you should always be considering where you could move yourself to be more valuable.  But also think of those wheels as literal wheels, because that's what they are, and you'll be able to actually move your desk with them...  There is no organizational structure keeping you from being in close proximity to the people who you'd help or be helped by most.

Compare this intent against the image below.  

Which if the following fosters, invites, promotes, welcomes genuine collaboration?  Which environment would you prefer to work in?