Friday, March 19, 2010

Tools for Adult Practice in Schools

This is an interesting session for me. To be frank, I am more administrator these days (and that role continues to grow). I use the P21 Framework constantly. In particular, the Communication and Collaboration elements.

A little context to my use of this part of P21 recently. Brebeuf is revamping it's Student Handbook and AUP. The lines are appearing between those ready to embrace collaborative tools and those who are still reluctant. A recent event is being used as the example of both camps. Two students were working on a collaborative product. One student plagiarised content. The other student pleads ignorance of the activity. On one hand, Student A must be held responsible for their actions as defined by the current Student Handbook (zero on assignment). But what about Student B? Is Student B telling the truth? As the product was collaborative, is Student B accountable for all Student A's decisions?

As I have said before, I really think it comes down to control. In the case above, do we want to control "crime and punishment" and student behavior? Or can we let go and let the grey areas of life play out? If students are allowed to access collaborative tools (electronic or not) the teacher is no longer the center of the process - the students are creating content and directing the learning for good and bad. This is a scary turn of events and one that flies in the face of how most of us were educated and taught to be educators.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reflection on Ken Robinson TED Presentation

Just sat and watched Ken Robinson’s TED presentation on creativity. I will admit to reluctantly watching the talk. I have read some of Ken Robinson’s interviews and was not particularly impressed. I did find this presentation interesting, and not just because I am married to a college professor and found the part on the body being a method of transport for the brain HILARIOUS.

What’s not to agree with the premise “educating the whole person”… how Jesuit! I work in an environment which espouses this daily. The reality I find a little harder. With pressure for higher test scores and more prestigious college entrance, our school is on the front lines of what Robinson was discussing. How do you explain to parents (with scores and college as the measure of success) that a child’s development may lead away from their concept of success? I even sense this as a parent myself. When my child brings home a “C”, I pause... that is not the sign of success I want to see. But then I stop, what is important in this child’s development? A “C” on homework, or the bright, happy child I am watching grow into a social advocate? It’s still hard though. Success is defined by “A’s”.

I am concerned with Robinson’s definition of creativity. He defines creativity as, “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Value to whom? As we just discussed, ideals of success may not be the industrial driven focus that our education system was built on. So what value are we to put on original thought? Financial? Knowledge? Problem Solving? I am concerned that putting any value definition on original thought brings us right back to Robison’s supposed premise – that we educate the whole person. How do you put value on a person?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Research Study

Taking part in a research study through connections made on Global Education Collaborative site. Fun to be part of the future.

Check out this video on the site from Tracey Lee and Student Speak Webisodes Refreshing to see students self-produce on topics of the day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Technology Enhanced Reflection Practices

How Ignatian!

In our reading assignment, How can teachers help students reflect on and
communicate their own learning?
, the author discusses the need for students to reflect on their learning. The discussion of metacognition is appreciated. It's interesting to read articles advocating blogging for reflective purposed when recent data from the Pew Internet and American Family Project ("Social Media and Teens" Feb. 3, 2010) found that teens are blogging less these days.

Brebeuf uses blogging for multiple reflective processes. Students going on overseas exchange programs or mission trips blog while away from school. They share their experiences, thoughts, and insights on encountering new cultures. Students blog in science classes about PBL assignments. They reflect on discoveries made during lab processes. Students blog in their English classes to reflect on readings and characterizations. We blog in Social Studies, Religious Studies, and Computer Applications. We do a lot of blogging.

Most reports of blog integration are positive. The level of discussion in the classroom has increased. Students keep in touch beyond geographic boundaries. Ideas and passions are shared and developed. The downside has been the authenticity of the product (as the article also mentions). Students will not full engage in blogging if it's over monitored, over-programed and over-structured. I think teachers sometimes show reluctance in letting go control of the process. Authentic blogging (or any social media enterprise) requires us the adults to step out of the process. Reflection is very personal. It can not be forced. I would argue for more student-centric blogging. Let the students control the parameters and more authentic reflection will take place.