Saturday, May 7, 2016

Worth Reading Part II...

I forgot to include two videos in the previous Worth Reading post.  Take a few minutes to check out both videos.

1. Losing Ourselves (Wolfe)- A student-directed documentary about how an expectation for perfection undermines the love of learning and creative endeavors.  A piece potentially worth sharing with high school students and faculty.  

2. Ski Lodge on Wheels- Leveraging tiny living to support a passion.  Outside of my love for skiing, this video is a subtle reminder of how important it is to be afforded opportunities to pursue a passion. Watch the video and specifically, reflect on the process.  Consider the amount of thought and authentic problem-solving involved in supporting the passion of these quasi-nomad skiers.

Worth Reading...

Sharing highlights from the past few weeks.

1. Johannes Haushofer CV- professor at Princeton University publishes a CV of his failures in an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.

I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me.  As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days.

2. Is Your School Literate? (Richardson)- the author revisits a question presented six years ago and wonders whether schools are addressing the evolving notion of what it means to be literate in the 21st century.

While I think the “Are our kids literate?” question is certainly an important one, an even more significant one may be “Are our schools literate?” Is modern literacy something that is a part of our DNA, or is it something we try to “teach” as a separate entity using some off the web curriculum to pace us through it? I think you know that the answer, by and large, is that we’re not practicing literacy in schools in ways that either model or teach our students the skills they need to become truly literate in today’s world. Obviously, we’re not talking about a three week unit in the second half of seventh grade. And we’re also not helping our kids in this regard when we bring digital tools into classrooms and then employ them for traditional purposes. (The “digital worksheets” thing again.)

3. The World Must Invest in Technology Education (Knowles)- Andreas Schleicher, a Director at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), states how education technology will not only impact our children as individuals but future industry, business, and trade.  Schleicher states those unable to navigate the digital landscape will struggle to fully participate in the life around them.  Whether this bold statement is true can be debated.  However, it's critical that students are able to make thoughtful decisions regarding the use of technology. As opposed to the teacher dictating the use of technology, individual learners should assume ownership the selection of digital tools and resources.

Technology should allow for deeper learning, and flexibility for more individual choices to accelerate learning, and to use out-of-school learning in effective and innovative ways.

4.  Don't Send Your Kids to College.  At Least Not Yet (Falik)- An interesting piece about whether it's best for students to take a gap year before entering college.  The article points out that taking a gap year offers the chance for students to gain experience through personal exploration.  Additionally, students potentially enter college more mature through a bridge year.

A growing number of colleges have begun to embrace a novel solution: change the outcomes of college by changing the inputs. What if college freshmen arrived on campus not burnt out from having been “excellent sheep” in high school, but instead refreshed, focused and prepared to take full advantage of the rich resources and opportunities colleges have to offer?

5. The Power of Audience (Cofino)- The post discusses the power behind creating for a public audience.  This has been a recurring theme posted on this blog.  Students need to compose for an authentic audience and preferably one that can offer helpful feedback.  Also, check out the following video, the girl in the video describes her learning process and specifically, how she was able to learn from others who, publicly, shared their work.

6. The EdCollabGathering: Future Ready Elementary Classrooms- elementary school teachers share how they broke away from traditional models (instruction, environment, management) to create a transdisciplinary environment in two 4th grade classrooms.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Unseen City: Wonders of the Urban Wildlife

I regularly listen to several podcasts.  One of my favorite podcasts is 99% Invisible.  The most recent episode, Unseen City: Wonders of the Urban Wildlife, broadcasts an interview with author and amateur naturalist Nathaneal Johnson.  In the book, Unseen City, Nathaneal Johnson shares stories of plants and animals which thrive in urban landscapes.  In the podcast, Johnson explains how he became intrigued by animals and plant life that many of us simply overlook on a daily basis. However, as the podcast and book highlights, urban creatures reveal fascinating stories of fortitude and survival.

What resonated during the podcast was a subtle message to take the time to observe the natural world.  We often take for granted the natural world and rarely stop and think about how aspects of the natural world evolved.  To an extent, this is true in education.  Students rarely slow down to observe the natural world or for that matter, the subtle developments within a given day.  As a result, meaningful opportunities to reflect and to dig deeper are lost.  The same is true for educators.  How often do teachers and administrators just simply observe students not necessarily to assess, but instead, to uncover hidden facts about how kids learn, interact with peers and manage the realities of being a student? Educators can take a cue from Johnson and carve out time to observe and to think deeply about what is noticed.  It is important to uncover the hidden/unseen stories and not take for granted certain developments within a school building or classroom.