Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Q8: Favorite Promethean Lesson

I created a lesson at a work day that was on fractions.  Students had to use pattern blocks to determine the fractions.  What fraction of a hexagon is a small triangle?  What fraction of a large rhombus is a small triangle?  Students did the manipulating at their desks while I demonstrated and guided them at the Promethean board.  By the end, students were coming up to the board to demonstrate their understanding.  I did the lesson several weeks ago, and when we did a review yesterday, students seem to have retained the information well.   

Another lesson that I thought went well but wasn't planned ahead of time was one where I used the board to help kids plan a project they were doing on our ecosystems unit.  I took all of the required documents they needed and made them into a flipchart.  We reviewed, they with highlighters and paper, me with the Promethean highlighter.  I then imported all of the pages as .jpg files and put them on our class wiki.  I was amazed at the number of students who told me that they accessed the documents online to show their parents or to work on the projects over the weekend.  I thought it was very effective to have the exact documents on the wiki that we did in class.  It wasn't fancy or pretty, but it seemed to be very effective.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ken Robinson Makes Sense

"Kids are living breathing people".  Uh, yes, but we continue to act as if they are data points and run them through our mass education factory and expect them to care about test scores. Ken Robinson wants us to "radically transform" our schools.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A New Lens

Okay, it has happened.  We have been talking at length about what we call "Deeper Level Thinking" and now nearly everything I have been reading and seeing on the web is related to it and I can't keep up!  Here is my preliminary list:

Neil Degrasse Tyson talking about Science Literacy - "I am often asked, 'How do I get my kid more interested in Science?'  GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!" (Straight A students get straight A's because you [teacher] don't matter to them.  --ouch...)

Daniel Pink, DRiVE - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

The Thinking Classroom - Learning and Teaching in a Culture of Thinking, Tishman, Perkins, Jay.  Meg Torres' blog on this topic.

Understanding by Design, Grant Wiggins

How do I (we) filter through this vast body of knowledge that says that we need to be valuing the thinking process in our students, not their grade, not the standardized test.  I see my school jumping from resource to resource, then presenting each to the whole faculty like the latest is the greatest.  The topic is a good one, and I think it is worthy of us spending our PD time working on it.  We should collectively vett this information, experiment and experience it, then boil it all down to its most valuable points.  HOW?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Technology Transformed Learning Environments

As usual, David Warlick nails it when he talks about the use of technology in the classroom in this article.
Tech-infused learning certainly involves the effective and appropriate use of information (contemporary literacy), which includes accessing, working, expressing knowledge — through the networks, digitally, compellingly, and with consideration of others. But what do you look for to see that?  What does the learning experience look like.
His list of 5  mirrors (not surprisingly) what we have been talking about in my school PD sessions on deeper-level thinking.  Deeper level thinking involves the nurturing of the same skills.  In our impromptu book study group we are reading the book THE THINKING CLASSROOM: Learning and Teaching In a Culture of Thinking by Shari Tishman; David N. Perkins; Eileen Jay.  Same stuff: creating a language of thinking, emphasis on questioning, a comfort with ambiguity, encouraging conversation.  If we raise the bar in terms of how much we require our students to think, they will rise to it.  This doesn't require the use of prescriptive curriculum just as it doesn't require the use of technology.  But the more opportunities we give students to ask and answer deep and thoughtful questions, the more confident they become as THINKERS and PROBLEM SOLVERS.

And, in following the thread between DW and another EdTech guru, Will Richardson, Will emphasizes the need to continue to talk about the value of technology in the classroom. (His blog post here.)  Right now does the use of tech still remain an alternative to the "traditional" text book-paper-pencil classroom, or is it better, more valuable, more engaging in the hands of the tech-savvy teacher?  Parent perception is sometimes that this is frivolous and unnecessary.  My teammate and I have talked about doing a "Tech Day"-type of workshop with parents, instead we are presenting a project combining students' ecosystems projects that span science, literacy and technology.  If the focus was on tech, it would still seem to be something separate from the core curriculum.  Hopefully, students, parents and teachers will see the infusion of technology into the content areas as effortless and completely logical.