Friday, May 9, 2008

Just the Facts, Ma'am

One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There's always more than you can cope with. ~ Marshall McLuhan
The question is this: What should we know in our own heads and what should we simply leave to a machine's storage device?

Joe Makley has a fascinating post on this very subject titled, "Platitudes and Orthodoxy in Web 2.0." But Joe goes beyond whether a fact is completely necessary to learn. He speaks to the issue of focus and contemplation in this world where we are bombarded by so much information that we often operate on an instant-to-instant crisis basis rather than through deliberation and thoughtfulness.

Are we in danger of losing both our roots and our wings? Our souls? Any thoughts about taming the technology beast?

Taming the Beast - Choice & Control in the Electronic Jungle by Jason Ohler.
The Idea of Global Collective Memory
Artificial Intelligence at LIM Resources Wiki

In Your Shoes

I received a link to this video from Anne Ireland today. I've been thinking of it in terms of school culture and the top-down, little boxes model that public education has increasingly experienced. Thank you, Anne.

Earlier Post on Respect
Listening to Others
Operation Respect
Don't Laugh at Me

What do you think?

Reconsidering Acceptable Use Agreements

Many Maine schools are reviewing their acceptable use agreements/policies in light of new developments in utilization of the internet. Rather than each school reinventing the wheel, why not share the wealth by listing your school's agreements here?

LIM Acceptable Use Policy Wiki Page

Thursday, May 8, 2008

MARTI - Blogging in Adult Education

The adult education staff at Oxford Hills and I will be working on how blogging might be used with their students. Click here to view the agenda.

Essential Question: How can classroom communication and collaboration be enhanced with the use of blogs?

Margie's Maine Blog
HartfordGarden Blog

Sunday, May 4, 2008


"People want the attention -- no one likes to feel like an underappreciated cog in an overworked machine."
~ Vicki Davis
Vicki was commenting on a post from Ed Tech Trek titled "I'm beaming". In the post, Caroline Obannon was expressing her joy when working individually with a teacher who saw clearly and enthusiastically how a tool could be used in his classroom.

The moral of the story is that teachers are very, very busy people and need to be treated with respect. It is so very easy for people who don't spend every day in the classroom to pontificate by throwing out elaborate schemes that in the end are not workable given limited time and energy. I saw it many times during my 32 years in the classroom. Those who work on making changes in our schools must do so without arrogance and self-righteousness. It is time to start trusting teachers while giving them our support.

The ultimate irony is for an outsider to give a lecture to a crowd of teachers on a professional development day on how teachers should be using collaboration, teamwork, constructivism, project-based learning, and interdisciplinary teaching with their students. And yet, how often does it happen? I know I've been guilty of that approach. Not good.

Coincidentally, thanks to Michael Richards' Notes from Millie D blog, I discovered the following:

An Ode to Study Groups

By Folwell Dunbar

From the early Neolithic or late Pliocene
To just yesterday afternoon around half past four
The professional development most often seen
Had participants screaming and running for the door!

The principal would attend a workshop in July,
Buy the hottest new book or some videocassette.
He would come back to school with a twinkle in his eye
And write an S.I.P. teachers could never regret!

A Ph.D. with a huge ego and résumé
Would visit the school two or three times during the year.
And show every last teacher an enlightened way
To make A.Y.P. without even an ounce of fear.

He would stand at the podium and preach to the choir
Bout' NCLB and shared accountability.
"We must raise the bar and then jump higher and higher!
Teach from bell to bell with sense and sensitivity!"

The teachers would leave the cafetorium in glee
With reams of information packed with jargon to spare.
Lugging binders and handouts (at a nominal fee),
They would return to class both in rapture and aware...

Of research-based "best practices" that were tried and true
And lesson strategies that could not possibly fail!
The administration was sharp, knew just what to do:
They had "stood and delivered" the PD Holy Grail!

But as we all know, school change is a tricky business;
It's hard as a tack and never happens overnight.
Workshops don't work, all victims would certainly confess.
It requires blood, sweat, and tears and a terrific fight!

Faculty buy-in and active participation
Are key ingredients for real, successful reform.
To bring about such a meaningful transformation
We have to make the two an essential PD norm.

Embed them throughout the entire training process
To ensure that teachers get both what they want and need.
Create a new culture dedicated to progress
Where everyone has an opportunity to lead.

To accomplish this, there is only one thing to do:
Sound the alarm and rally the much-beleaguered troops;
Get rid of workshops and empower the in-school crew.
Change the paradigm; adopt faculty study groups!

Six to eight people working together side by side
Go explore topics and issues relevant to each.
They travel miles and miles deep and hardly an inch wide,
Until they discover a better, new way to teach.

From crunching numbers to trying a new high-tech tool,
From reading a great book to designing a lesson,
They do any number of things to improve the school.
It is always worthwhile and occasionally fun.

Study groups will increase student achievement and more.
They will earn the school district and state impunity.
But much more important than any assessment score,
You'll be a professional learning community!

Let's hope that the the phrase, professional learning community, doesn't deteriorate to simply mean business as usual. Let's not use language to get in the way of communication . . . but instead to help develop clarity and understanding.