Edublog Awards 2008

In his blog post yesterday, David Warlick thanked his readers and the Edublog Awards for conferring a Lifetime Achievement Award upon him. What a fitting tribute to a man whose work has impacted so many people–by challenging our thinking and by so incisively analyzing the changing world and what it might mean to our profession and our kids.

I’ve followed David Warlick since I was lucky enough to see his presentation at the ALA Annual Convention in New Orleans in 2006. His presentation inspired me to read Friedman’s The World is Flat, and later, Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, two works that have helped me to guide my young college-aged daughter, and to change my practice as a librarian. That one hour that I spent in Warlick’s workshop truly changed my brain–changed the way I look at librarianship for the 21st century, as well as education in general! Yesterday, I was excited to get Warlick’s latest book in the mail: Redefining Literacy 2.0. I can’t wait to read it– I know it will reinvigorate my thinking.

In his post, Warlick worries that the Lifetime Achievement Award might indicate that he is a doddering old man at the end of his career. I can’t imagine that this is even close to truth. It’s just a much-deserved thank you to a man that provides leadership and challenges so many others to think about things a bit differently, inspiring those of us “in the trenches” to professional practice that will (hopefully) serve our students well in this changing world!
Thanks David! And Congratulations!!

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Another Post About Creativity…

I’ve been way out of the loop with my blog/professional reading for the last few weeks. End of school just always slams me, and then I got to go on a wonderful vacation, so it’s literally been a couple of months since I’ve really read what is showing up in my google reader! I can’t wait to begin looking through and thinking about what recently happened at NECC.

Anyway, this morning (since I’m still a bit jet-lagged), I got up early and began reading David Warlick’s blog–he always gets me thinking! He has a turn of phrase that so often provides a clarity that I just can’t express as well myself.
In his response to Clarence Fisher’s post, (
America, You’ve Got Trouble ), David considers how both Canadian and American classrooms can effectively incorporate the changes that are necessary to our students tomorrow.
He says:

The problem, in my opinion, began when we started to consider and to treat our students as our future workforce. When it became our industries that were at stake, rather than democracy, then we had no choice but to mechanize education, to turn it into an assembly line, where we install math, and install reading, and install science, and then measure each product at the end to make sure that they all meet the standards — that they all know the same things and think the same ways.

The sad part is that this theme of class as future work force is just about too firmly entrenched to turn around in the short months and years we have, before it’s too late. I’m finding myself promoting the creative arts skills for the sake of the economy, rather than a richer life for our children. But even within that story, I think that we can retool our classrooms in a way that does help our children inside and outside their work experiences.

Standards–and minimum standards, at that–are being used on a massive scale in our schools to ensure just that–learning at the lowest acceptable level by the greatest number of children. We put great time and effort into ensuring that minimum competencies are met by all (or most). Admittedly, we do talk professionally about “extending the learning” of all students, especially those who we know will pass the test in the end, but is that enough? It seems artificial & prescriptive to me…a bit disingenuous, in fact…to allow “extension,” but primarily for the students who have already met the minimum. Is it enough that all our students know the “same things and think the same ways?” That is scary to me…and sad.

More and more, I find myself out of sync with the general practice in my profession–at least locally. Shouldn’t we challenge all our kids to think creatively? Not just with the goal of better standardized test scores in mind! Honoring our students’ creativity and fostering its development is what will make a difference in their adult lives–both economically and personally. Is there room for that when minimum standards consume our practice? What is the answer?

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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