Friday, May 30, 2014

Look Up

In regards to what is shared below, as educators, we are challenged to manage or better mentor students when it comes to technology.  In a curriculum evaluation session with teachers today we discussed the idea of establishing as a department goal, the need to create classrooms where a sense of wonder exists- where students stop and think about the world around them and wonder about what they observe.  I see a connection with this article.  While the ability to connect in and out of the classroom is important, it is also vital to have our student think about the things they notice.

Look Up. Effective technology use is knowing as much when to drop it, as to use it.
"Where we leave out all the bad bits, show no emotion…" A poem about real world empathy, being in the present, shutting down that screen... after you've watched it on YouTube, of course.
The point made here, though, is an interesting one when we reflect on the design thinking process and why it seems so powerful for learning, and is clearly distanced from "innovative technology use" when we see it used in schools. If anything, the key parts in the process - defining and reframing problems, ideating solutions to them, and soliciting and acting upon feedback, have nothing to do with a screen. There's great design research showing, too, that technology has failed to step up yet to the complexities of the real world thinking that our brains go through when trying to make sense of complex information in order to define a problem, or ideate a solution (e.g., Dorta, T., PĂ©rez, E. and Lesage, A. (2008) - The Ideation Gap).
So, yes: look up, don't let the world pass by. Observe it, note the normal, embrace the differences and happenstance, create something new with someone else.

Worth Reading

Here is some weekend reading/viewing material....

1. The Story of a 3D Printed Whistle (Crosby)- elementary students working on developing a whistle- much harder than one might think to engineer a high quality whistle

I’ve seen many examples of figures printed out on a 3D printer … and they are impressive. Students have to figure out and problem solve coding the design to get it just right. But this is different in that students aren’t just printing out a figure that looks like a whistle, they are using the engineering design process to make a whistle that actually works 

2. Marymount’s ‘Come Alive’ Event Inspires Student Creativity, Ingenuity (Seguel)- coverage of Marymount of Santa Barbara "Creativity, Engineering and Coding Come Alive" event

Marymount Head of School Andrew Wooden explained Marymount’s new Design Thinking program in more depth: “Design Thinking is not just about kids building things, but about learning to approach challenges of all kinds, learning to use and trust trial and error, and finding creative solutions to problems.”

3. For Students the Importance of Doing Work That Matters (Richardson)- does the work we do with students matter in that matters in the real world and has a purpose outside of the classroom

Still, we can start small, can’t we? What if we took 10% of what we’re currently doing and handed it over to our students, asking them to meet the standard or the outcome we’ve set for them in a way that they care about and that had a purpose beyond the classroom? What if we created opportunities for them to educate, entertain, inspire, or connect with people from all over the globe who might be sincerely influenced by the work they’re doing? And what if we asked them to assess their own work in ways that matter to them, ways that inform them what worked, what didn’t work, and how they might do it differently down the road?
Schools and classrooms should support a deep culture of “doing work that matters,” where the adults in the building serve as models for the type of creating and learning we might expect from kids.

4. Beyond Laptops and The Power of Vulnerability (Cofino)- as teachers we all have something to share and something to learn
When we all appreciate that each of us has something to share and something to learn, we really do open ourselves up to the possibility of becoming better than we were when we started.

5. Design for Extreme Affordabilityis a two quarter, multidisciplinary, project-based course open to Stanford University students. Students work in teams, using design thinking methods, to develop products and services that serve the needs of the world's poor 
Extreme will be a class that I talk about for the rest of my life, and will undoubtedly influence my future career choices, management style and approach to problem solving. 

6. Schooled (Russakoff)- inside look at leadership of a large urban school district

The research says that maybe only two or three out of ten people actually have a passion that they’ve identified, that they can work into. We believe that actually, passion turns out to be what you develop after you find the things that you enjoy doing.

8. Chris and Jon Boggiano on Radius of Play

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Commencement Address

I had the chance to observe a 5th grade class today.  The teacher was showing the class  Naval Adm. William H. McRaven's commencement remarks to the 2014 graduating class at the University of Texas.  The speech delivered by Admiral McRaven was used as a mentor text for students to assess figurative and literal language.  At various times during the remarks (see below), the class stopped to talk about the speech and the language choices made by Admiral McRaven.  Furthermore, the class discussed the overall message and how a small moment can serve as a metaphor or a touchstone for a more philosophical statement about life. Students openly debated technical aspects of the speech and also engaged one another in exchanges about how one individual possesses the power to make a positive difference in the world.

 I'm looking forward to see what happens next.  The teacher shared how the commencement address could serve as a springboard into students mirroring the Admiral's approach to storytelling by coming up with their own phrases/stories about changing the world.  The thought was also shared that students could be challenged to write their own commencement speeches.  


Friday, May 16, 2014

Thinkers vs. Producers

Loved this thought posted on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog:

In How Children Fail, John Holt makes the following distinction:
  • producers - students who are only interested in getting right answers, and who make more or less uncritical use of rules and formulae to get them
  • thinkers – students who try to think about the meaning, the reality, of whatever it is they are working on
A great question to ask ourselves: What is the ratio of thinkers to producers in our school(s)? In most schools, I’m guessing the ratio is fairly small, even for our high-achieving students.
Another great question to ask ourselves: What is an average school day like for those students in our school(s) who ARE thinkers?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Worth Reading....

Passing along a few interesting reads.

1. The Confidence Gap (Kay and Shipman)Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence. The article states why and what to do about it.

A growing body of evidence shows just how devastating this lack of confidence can be. Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence. No wonder that women, despite all our progress, are still woefully underrepresented at the highest levels. All of that is the bad news. The good news is that with work, confidence can be acquired. Which means that the confidence gap, in turn, can be closed.

2. How Failure In the Classroom Is More Instructive Than Success (Sobel)- giving students permission to fail while maintaining a high standard in the classroom

There is a popular meme called "Famous Failures," featuring quotations on overcoming rejection, failure, and loss from Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, the Beatles, Oprah, and Albert Einstein. The message is familiar: Abundant success lies on the other end of failure. Could guiding our students through their own failures inspire the next groundbreaking physicist, talk-show star, or iPhone inventor? Possible … but not likely. Even if the results end up being a little less grandiose, I think they are just as important. Learning to fail could help our students become more resilient, self-aware, innovative, and compassionate. Not bad for a bunch of "failures."

3. My First Shot At Perplexity- crafting truly meaningful math activities for primary elementary students
I found myself on Google Earth, using the measuring tool to see how far away my house is from my school in a straight line (I was bored…). It dawned on me that I could measure anything from the perimeter of Fenway Park, to the radius of Madison Square Garden. What if the students were shown a picture of something they knew with lines and no numbers. Could they ask the right questions for us to figure out the area of their school’s gym? How about the handball courts in the back of the school? Why would we need to do this?
4. Inside Google X: The New Bell Labs (WNYC)- look at the conditions Google is creating to spur invention

5. Empathy In Education (Gray)- occasioning empathy in our classrooms

It was a very grim day, when I began to notice the profound lack of empathy in education, particularly in public education. That story can be found here: Educational trauma is a term I coined to capture the lack of empathy I was noticing. It is the inadvertent perpetration and perpetuation of victimization by educational systems against consumers and producers of the system.

6. Made In The Future- explanation of how things will be made

Made in the Future is an effort to capture our musings about what a not-so-distant tomorrow might look like. Our tools—faster, cheaper, and more out of control than ever—have triggered seismic shifts in how we design, manufacture, and distribute. And that has us asking lots of questions: What new tools or technologies will we create? How will they change the way we behave and learn? How will they shape our world?

7. How To Do One thing Really Well (Renwick)- a principal pushes the envelope in his school

While the two of us were becoming more learners than teachers, we also wanted to move our students to become teachers for each other. Our learning environment needed more balance. We kicked off our new week by showing students how to create tutorials using Screencast-o-matic, a free web-based tool.