Friday, February 28, 2014

Bridging the Gap

Last week I had the chance to attend Social Media Week in New York City.  I got a day pass to Thursday's string of presentations, demonstrations and discussions.  Five minutes into Meredith Kopit Levien's (she is the Executive Vice President, Advertising for the NY Times) on the "Art and Science of Storytelling" a long-held personal belief was reaffirmed.  I have always believed that a barrier cannot exist between the professional world and education.   Furthermore, education cannot exist in a fiercely protected bubble, isolated from changes happening outside the walls of a school building.

I'm sure I am not alone when it comes to this opinion.  In fact, justification for the Common Core is to ensure that K-12 students are developing college and career readiness skills.  Even though there is an intense effort underway to make sure our students can successfully compete on a global level, what is being done or what should be done to make sure educators truly understand how the business world is changing?  There are educators who come to teaching from "industry" but this is not the case for what I assume are most k-12 educators.  I would imagine (having never done any official study) that a majority of k-12 teachers have only worked in education.  This reality presents an issue when it comes to making sure students are career ready upon graduating or after 2/4 years of post-secondary schooling.  

Finding ways to bridge the divide between education and commerce is critical.  For me, last Thursday was a perfect opportunity to gain insight into the world beyond schools.  The presentation by Meredith Levien was more thought-provoking than deconstructing reading and writing anchor statements.  In sharing how the Times views storytelling, Meredith Levien juxtaposed an article posted on the Times website from the 2004 olympics in Athens, Greece to articles posted about the games in Sochi.  For an example from the 2014 games Meredith Levien referenced a profile the Times did on American skier Ted Ligety.  As opposed to the piece from 2004 which relied heavily on text to express a point, the profile on Ligety relied on a multimodal approach to demonstrate the way in which Ligety has come to dominate Giant Slalom racing.  Through leveraging a variety of communication mediums, the Times is able to present to readers Ligety's significance to the sport of skiing.

While sitting in on Levien's presentation and certainly afterwards, I was inspired to think about we approach storytelling with students.  Here was the NY Times, a globally recognized figure in the field of journalism, showing how storytelling has evolved.  I kept thinking about the idea of college readiness or whether we were creating an environment where students told stories in the same spirit as what Meredith Levien shared.  Having the chance to "live" outside of a school, even if it was for one day, provided the chance to view teaching and learning through a different and truly needed perspective.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Worth Reading..

Sharing highlights from the past week.

1. Creativity Becomes An Academic Discipline (Pappano)- growing number of degrees undergraduate and graduate in creativity

Traditional academic disciplines still matter, but as content knowledge evolves at lightning speed, educators are talking more and more about “process skills,” strategies to reframe challenges and extrapolate and transform information, and to accept and deal with ambiguity.

2. Forget Coding, Let's Change Up How We Teach Math (Burt)- leveraging Math (as a space) to teach code and to eternally address questions of will I ever use this outside of school...

One of the most common obstacles we hear about why schools don’t teach computer science is that there aren’t enough qualified educators out there to meet the demands.  But there’s a trained army of math teachers out there willing to find new and better ways of delivering their content, that with a small amount of preparation could no doubt be leading the way.  So, how can we make time in their curricula and schedule to make it happen?
3. Passion-Based Learning, Day 1: Probing Minecraft's Appeal (Renwick)- thoughts about why Minecraft appeals to students and what lessons to learn from why there is an intense interest in Minecraft.
When someone enters Minecraft, the world is their’s to create. They are in control of their destiny. What a stark contrast to our students’ lives in school. The standards are set, the assessments are pre-determined, and the plans have been prepared. All without the students’ input. If this is their learning to own, we don’t always do a very good job of including them in the process.
4. Making Ourselves Vulnerable (Richardson)
Walk down the vendor floor of any big edu-conference and you’ll see our obsession with making learning less messy and less “vulnerable.” Struggle, patience, courage, persistence, failure, passion…none of these are quantifiable to the degree that reformers or most edupreneurs need them to be to “count.” Yet schools will spend time and money (lots of it) on stuff that organizes, compartmentalizes, personalizes, standardizes, and captures “learning” in order to be compared “successfully” to other districts down the road.
5. Rethinking Education With Design Thinking (Pfau)-highlights schools in the Bay area where design thinking influences work with kids
Students not only master the concepts embedded within each project, they also exercise their skills of collaborating with teammates, investigating their topic thoroughly, using empathy to generate ideas for solutions, prototyping, testing and most importantly, they learn that failure is not a setback. As Gever explained in his talk, the retention of information that kids have as a result of this process is significantly higher. More significantly, learning to identify the need for and acquire skills in response to problem solving situations is a life long skill set that will better shape these kids to confront productive careers that address real world problems.
6. School In the Cloud Report- A brief introduction to the School In the Cloud project

7. Art, made with coding: calling future interactive artisits- In between creating masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and “Madonna and Child,” Michelangelo dissected cadavers in the hopes of understanding how the human body worked so he could paint it accurately. He’s not the only one: there has long been a connection between science and art. And it’s true today more than ever, as modern artists use technology for inspiration, inventing ways to give life to code, letting it spill from the screen and onto the canvas.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Day Walk

A few shots from around town while walking the dog.