Doug Johnson @ TEDxASB

How did I miss these TEDx Talks? Guess I had my head down “in the trenches” when they were posted, but I truthfully don’t even remember reading about them!

In March of last year, several of my favorite thinkers spoke at the American School of Bombay, and the resulting videos are posted at the bottom of this page as reference. The theme of TEDxASB was Identity, and (one of my professional heroes) Doug Johnson‘s 18 minutes are embedded below–he muses about how our “digital natives'” identity must change what we do as educators.

The part that resonates with me is near the end of Doug’s presentation, when he recounts Clay Shirky’s story about bringing home a huge new LCD TV for his family. His young daughter, rather than being impressed, immediately asked, “Where’s the mouse?”

Engagement rather than entertainment is what our students demand from schools. Johnson’s challenge to us is that we all create a environments in our classrooms, libraries, schools that foster engagement–active interest. Our kids deserve that.

I wonder if my library program is engaging to all my students. I don’t really think it is. I know for certain that it isn’t for some students–especially those who are so thoroughly unengaged in the entire school experience.

What does that look like in an elementary library with a fixed schedule? I’d love to hear from others what they think!

Here are the other great TEDxASB presentations. They are all very much worth your time and thought! These are some amazing people! Engaging and entertaining! 🙂

25 Ed Tech Leaders to Follow

Wow! Thanks Lisa and Liz for a great list of Ed Tech Leaders to follow! This will be a great resource when colleagues ask questions like “but who do I follow on twitter that will give me good information and not junk?” Great list!

Of course, I’d add Liz Davis (twitter: @lizbdavis ) and Lisa Thumann (twitter: @lthuman )to the list!!

Podcasting with Purpose

Bob Sprankle’s latest Bit by Bit podcast is posted, and I’m just getting around to listening to it. It is the audio from his Building Learning Communities keynote, entitled Podcasting with Purpose.

Wow! Well worth a listen! I think his title is slightly off the mark though, because this presentation explores so much more than just podcasting, per se. He used podcasting as a catalyst for change in his classroom–a change that is much deeper than just one tool. How I would love to have had my child in a 4th grade classroom with this much authentic learning, peer teaching/learning, exploration. His is a story of how these changes are about more than the tools–the change is in the focus of the classroom (learning rather than teaching) and authentic work that engages students. Thanks to Bob Sprankle for a great example for the rest of us who are trying to advocate these changes to teachers that may not love the tools…yet.

The presentation slides are below, and you can get the keynote here. Do them together–and then share! Also, I recommend that you subscribe to his podcast feed! It’s really a great one to have in your ipod!

Blocking…

Wow! My second post today!
I’m just catching up with reading from my RSS aggregator, and I found another short article by Scott McLeod (for American Association of School Administrators ) that seems to fit into my current mindset regarding 21st century skills, NCLB and enabling creative kids in our schools!

In Blocking the Future, McLeod compellingly urges superintendents and other school policymakers to find a way to enable teachers and students to use 21st century technologies to create authentic learning environments in schools. He writes:

…school district leaders have a critical choice to make: Will their schools pro-actively model and teach the safe and appropriate use of these digital tools or will they reactively block them out and leave students and families to fend for themselves? Unfortunately, many schools are choosing to do the latter. As a technology advocate, I can think of no better way to highlight organizational unimportance than to block out the tools that are transforming the rest of society. Schools whose default stance is to prohibit rather than enable might as well plant a sign in front of their buildings that says, “Irrelevant to children’s futures.” Note: I inserted boldface.

Strong words, but so true and so important. Thanks for eloquently saying what so many of us think, Dr. McLeod!

A Look at NCLB

At the suggestion of Dr. Teri Lesesne and Dr. Mary Ann Bell, two of my favorite professors from grad school, I read two articles–yet two more articles, I should say–that question the efficacy of mandates made by No Child Left Behind. Great food for thought as we ponder changes in our schools.

From Jordan Sonnenblick’s Killing Me Softly: No Child Left Behind

Our arts programs are gutted, our shop courses are gone, foreign languages are a distant memory. What’s left are double math classes; mandatory after-school drill sessions; the joyless, sweaty drudgery of summer school. Our kids come to us needing more of everything that is joyous about the life of the mind. They need nature walks, field trips, poetry, recess…What they’re getting is workbooks.

Study: Reading Program Doesn’t Boost Comprehension
In this recent AP article, reporter Nancy Zuckerbrod visits the Department of Education’s own study of NCLB’s Reading First program–a study finding “no difference in comprehension scores between students who participated in Reading First and those who did not.” Food for thought. These are two articles that are definitely worthy reading for school librarians and, in fact anyone with an interest in American public schools.

If we are truly making “data driven decisions” in schools today, what of these findings? It seems that we have encountered more problems than solutions with NCLB. What now?

Who among the legislators is listening and asking the real, tough, expensive questions? Can we afford to change course after the billions of dollars that have gone into NCLB changes in schools? I think of Daniel Pink’s insistence that, to thrive in the 21st century global economy, the United States must find a way to encourage ingenuity, design, creativity in our workforce. These are exactly the qualities that we discourage in our students today with NCLB, in my opinion. Can we really afford not to change course? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think…

Online Connections

Wow! I read about Jennifer Dorman’s Online Connections class on Cool Cat Teacher Blog this morning and took a quick look at it. Wow! Dorman has used the web 2.0 tools that we have all learned about over the past few months and taken this course to a whole new global level. Her course has a global slant that we know is important for the 21st century. I wanted to mention it on my blog so I don’t forget to go back and look it over more carefully. It really looks primo.

Changing Role of Schools

In the July/August 2007 Editor’s Note, James Daly (Edutopia magazine) gives a clear and concise overview of the change in the nature of information over the last 20 years, and the change (or lack thereof) in America’s public schools. He points out that business has called the shots in the formation of today’s information age, and schools must now

step into a new role: assembler of the collective intellect. Educators must help students sort out the insightful from the ludicrous, assisting them in their new role as capable and critical thinkers.

Wow! He’s talking about the very skills that librarians are suited to help students/teachers with! Evaluation of resources! Critical thinking!

Who says librarians are obsolete? Skilled librarians are more important now than ever–we just don’t always market ourselves effectively. It’s time for us to step up too.

Test Review as Cheat Code–Wow!

Yesterday on his blog, David Warlick compared test review activities to video game cheat code sites on the internet. He asserted that perhaps if we let students write their own test reviews and study guides via a wiki, that process might be more valuable (and intriguing) than the test itself. He goes on to say that perhaps students should be allowed to use these “cheat codes” as they test:

if allowing students to create a strategy guide to use when taking their test would make the test too easy — perhaps we’re asking the wrong questions on the test.

How I agree with that statement! It’s posts like these that make Warlick’s blog the first one I check every morning. I think his ability to make unique connections like this makes him one of the most interesting and valuable “thinkers” we have out there sharing.

This post helped me clarify in my mind how to explain to some of my teachers that this school 2.0 “stuff” is critical for them to learn about and include in their classrooms. What a great parallel between the classroom and kids’ RL this comparison is! What teacher hasn’t used a test review sheet–and possibly even a student generated one! But the link to how it is pertinent in kids lives to do this through one of their tools was very helpful to me!

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