Tag Archives: 2012/366

40.366 – back to first grade

CC-licensed photo by BC Gov Photos.

It’s been my experience at schools that I’ve worked at that elementary school divisions essentially function as different schools, as though they were complete separate. I’ve gotten a few people to back me up on this, but I’ve never understood it. It’s likely because the technology departments in schools tend to touch every part of the school — every academic division as well as every administrative one, too — but I’ve always felt uncomfortable by the separation that tends to happen. Elementary school teachers tend to go to one side of a room and middle/upper school teachers go to the other. Don’t we all work together?

I’ve got a solution to this problem: take a day and teach some classes in the “other” part of the school.

I’ve only ever taught middle and high school, various grades but always in that same 6th-12th grade container. Today I had to cover first and third grade classes for someone in my department, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Little kids? Heck, one of them was mine, how bad could it have been? I quickly realized that I had no tools in my arsenal to deal with these littler kids if things went south. Nothing I would normally do to get the calmed attention of a class of older students worked. I could only resort to a pathetic “Would you be doing the same thing if Ms. Teachername was here?” or “I’m going to have to tell your teacher.”

It was a profound learning experience for me. I felt like I knew, if even for a brief moment, what it was like on the “other side,” and I think everyone would benefit from some kind of one-day trade like this. If every school that had more than one division made every teacher do this, I bet there would be a lot more cohesiveness? How better to develop an appreciation for your colleagues than to have tried to do their job for a day?

We encourage students to exhibit empathy, but do we do enough to make sure that we are doing the same?

20.366 – shameless self-promotion

CC-licensed photo by Frisno

I really think that yesterday’s announcement by Apple about iBooks Author and iTunes U are going to be game-changers — and a lot of it comes down to what should be the demise of the traditional textbook, which is definitely due for a makeover. And, hopefully, it means the end of middle school kids needing to use rolling backpacks to carry all their books.

Some things I said about the announcement were printed in a couple of articles that were published today. I’m usually very terrible at self-promotion, but here I go. Shameless self-promotion time, mostly so I don’t lose track of the articles:

What Apple’s Digital Textbooks Will (and Won’t) Do for Learning

Apple gets an A+

19.366 – we must create

I had an interesting day. I started it by sending the video above to my faculty and then ended up sending details of the one below to them. I get why you might not watch the second one, but please, please watch the first one. You might not want to watch something on iPads, but Clay Shirky brilliantly explains why we should care about SOPA and PIPA, even if they never pass the House. (And, he also mentions College Bakery, which I used to live above in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.)

Education is changing. We don’t consume information anymore; we create it. We have to make that shift. Chris Lehmann absolutely nails it in the Apple video by saying that we shouldn’t be teaching students with the same tools we did in 1950, preparing them for a world that has already past. 

But wait. We just got through spending a whole day worrying — and we’re not done worrying yet — about what happens when we create information and get threatened because of it. Like a breath of fresh air, we just got a bunch of *free* tools that make it easy to create and consume brand new content in a new and dynamic way. This is the perfect remedy.

Teachers need to create new experiences for their students, and get their students to create and share new knowledge. This is the time to do it, proving that content creation by folks other than big studios and publishers is a very big deal.