Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Our literacy group of four was presented with the task of preparing a 2 to 3 slide presentation to share out about the section in the Jenkins White Paper we were responsible for. Almost immediately we all assumed roles in the creation of the presentation; the collaboration was natural and particularly effective because we gravitated to our strong suits. Rob started the “mechanics” of the presentation, figuring out how to set it up properly in Google Docs so we could all edit it; when he needed help Gina came and help him iron out the details. Karen and Leyla were voicing the important points we wanted to include, and I had already started searching for images because we wanted to use only a few words to convey our message and the accompanying images would be important.
We all contributed editions to the content and layout; when, for some reason my computer wouldn’t download images anymore, Leyla jumped in and started inserting them from her computer. I was still able to work on the layout to make it as visually appealing, and effective, as possible. The result was a presentation I was proud of for more than one reason. The content was ‘bang on’, succint and complete, the visuals supported the content very well, the layout was effective, and we had all contributed. I learned even more about our section than I had gleaned from my own reading in the process of producing the presentation. And then I even reinforced my comprehension during the sharing out to other groups phase of the activity. This is definitely an activity I would like to include in my own practice.

New literacy

Posted: August 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
While literacy has always had a “reading-writing” connotation for me, technological changes are adding many more layers and depth to the meaning of the term literacy. Literacy can and should now be taken in a much broader sense. I can be literate in the sense that I can read and write, but illerate, or at a low level of literacy in terms of social media proficiency. Or, for the learner who has never met with much success iin the more traditional definitions of literacy, this might allow his proficiency in technology, website designing for example, to be taken into account when assessing his “literacy”.
 
In other words, with the advent of so many more ways to communicate, literacy is now a much broader topic. It allows for the inclusion of the myriad of new technologies, be they social network related, web based design focussed, or any number of newly available presentation tools and devices. The advent of emerging technologies makes for many more possibilities of demonstratioting literacy (or lack thereof).

Play

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

When asked to reflect on play and its role in my life I initially thought this would be an easy exercise. Of course I play! There’s lots of play in my life!

Specific questions regarding play however proved more of a challenge to answer than I would have originally expected. “What does play look like for you?” After much more thought than I would have predicted necessary I come up with this rather academic, sterile definition: “play is movement or action that is spontaneous and enjoyable”. A few days later, as I write these words, I already disagree with my own definition. Does play necessarily have to be spontaneous? Are planning, rules and boundaries not required for most play?

“What do I do for play?” Easy…or is it? Again I find myself digging way too hard in my life to find examples of what I do for play. Finally I come up with travel, photography, and riding my bike. These are the activities I look forward to, the activities I enjoy the most and aim to practice as often as possible. But is it play? The personal value of play for me? “A change from the routine of grown up stuff like work and meeting responsibilities”. This is one answer I can still stand by.

Next, what do I know about the value of play-based learning theoretically? Admittedly, very little. Generally speaking my many years in the classroom have taught me that play can be used to draw interest, or rejuvenate enthusiasm for subject matter. In my Senior High Social Studies classroom a regular review tool I use is a modified version on tic-tac-to, that I call tic-tac-know. Students never seem to tire of this game I use to review material, even the older students ask to play on an almost daily basis. It certainly makes the curriculum more palatable for the students. And it reinforces the usefulness and importance of play in the classroom.

In the reading I selected, Games Children Play, author Maxwell makes a few interesting points/statements. Namely that he learned 95% of the subject matter before he entered school, that games and intellect are contagious, and that while children do require teachers, they “learn best in a balance between dependence on and independence from adults”.

While I can agree that games and intellect are contagious and that students require a balance between dependence and independence from adults, the first statement that 95% of subject matter is learned before entering school is harder to endorse in my heavily content driven Social Studies 11 curriculum. This however does not deter from the importance of play in the classroom and in learning activities. The challenge I plan to address is how to meet the needs of the curriculum while devising activities that include play. How can students learn what they will need to meet with success by means of play?  While the play-centered activities in my classes are successful, they are mainly organized and planned by me.

The challenge is now to enable a more student centered approach to game planning. How can I give them the “independence from adults” Maxwell argues is important for the balance required for best learning?

Technology just a tool?

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

My reaction to Dean Shareski’s blog post found here:

Saying technology is “just a tool” can be a very dangerous statement. I understand that when people say this, they’re simply trying to point out that technology is a peripheral that enables us to do the things we want to do better than before. I can agree with that concept but the problem with this thinking is that it often gets used to see technology only as a means to automate or make current practice more efficient. There are very few people involved in any level of education that thinks technology isn’t necessary for our students. Where we disagree is in how we’ll use it and most often there exists a lack of understanding and appreciation for the trans-formative nature of technology.

(Continue reading)        or maybe here:  http://ideasandthoughts.org/2011/05/07/its-not-just-a-tool/

To say technology is just a tool seems a little short sighted to me. Paper is a tool. A  pen is a tool. No one would argue that it’s what we do with them that matters. It appears to me that it’s also what we do with technology that matters. Am I embracing all the possibilities afforded me as an educator? The ability to make connections across the globe opens up so many possibilities for my Social Studies classroom that it boggles my 1980s teacher’s mind.

So, people can call it just a tool, but it is a tool that is forcing me to take a serious look at how to maximize my students’ learning. It has precipitated a fundamental change in how I look at what I’m doing, and has rejuvenated my whole outlook and approach. No other “tool” has had that effect on me.

A Conundrum: Rubrics or Creativity/Metacognitive Development?, by V. Chapman and D. Inman
Lists advantages and disadvantages of Rubrics. Among some of the advantages: provides guidelines, expectations explicit, aligned with standards, easy to use, informative feedback for students, provide answer key, allow constant assessment,can be impartial, document and communicate grading procedures, allow one to be organized and clarify thoughts. Disadvantages identified: evaluate doing vs understanding, too vague, dysfunctional detail, test mastery over skill mastering, may not convey all we want students to know, may limit imagination if students feel compelled to complete the assignment strictly as outlined in rubric,could lead to anxiety if too much criteria are included, reliability could be a factor as more individuals use the rubric, take time to develop, test, evaluate, and update.
Authentic Assessment Rubric, by Joel R. Montgomery, U of Phoenix
Argues that while traditional assessment approaches using multiple choice tests do not accurately measure knowledge, authentic assessment does: it opens up a collaborative approach to assessment that enables teachers and students to interact in the teaching/learning process. He goes to say that frequently rubrics for authentic assessments are provided to support meaningful self-assessment as well as criterion-referenced assessment by teachers. Rubrics assist the student to achieve appropriate performance targets. They can also support continuous assessment of student progress and serve as a collaborative tool to be used for dialogue between students, peers, teachers, administrators and parents.