Quote 9 Jun
The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.
Link 6 Mar How TED-ED Site Turns YouTube Videos To ‘Flipped’ Lessons - EdTechReview™ »

I haven’t tried this yet, but I love it!

Link 2 Dec Map Your Representatives»

The fastest way to look up and contact your representatives in government at the county, state, and national levels. Great for civics and similar activities. When you decide to write one of them, refer to Lifehacker’s article on how to contact government representatives.

Quote 21 Oct
We can pick our teachers and we can pick our friends and we can pick the books we read and the music we listen to and the movies we see, etcetera. You are a mashup of what you let into your life.
Quote 11 Jul
[G]reat teachers engineer learning experiences that maneuver the students into the driver’s seat and then the teachers get out of the way. Students learn best by personally experiencing learning that is physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual.
— 

Great Teachers Don’t Teach | Edutopia

A fabulous article that sums up everything I believe about how teachers should be empowered to teach.

Text 23 May Teacher and Student Discounts

One of the things teachers do that is often not fully understood or considered (or is outright ignored) by parents, administration, and legislators, is buying materials for their classrooms out of pocket. Most people are simply not aware the significant amounts of money teachers give up to make their classrooms run better and their students learn better.

Think about it. Did you have to purchase your own work computer? What about a filing cabinet? Printer paper? Printer ink cartridges? Business cards? Letterhead? Copy machine maintenance? Toilet paper? Next time you are at work, take a hard look at everything around you and consider how many of the things you need to do your job are provided for you by your employer. Imagine how you would feel if the expectation were that you to provide those things yourself. While you might buy some things for your workplace — your preferred style of pen, a plant, Kleenex, a required uniform, a wine key, etc. — the things you purchase are small, personal, infrequent, and usually last for as long as you take care of it. Teachers’ supplies on the other hand are large; numerous; for their students, not themselves; and frequent, being depleted constantly, needing perpetual replenishing.

I happened to stumble upon these lists when browsing something unrelated, but they seem worth saving. Here are some websites, in no particular order, listing those stores and websites that offer teacher and student discounts.

http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2012/12/18/100-stores-that-give-a-teacher-discount/

http://www.giftcardgranny.com/blog/the-complete-list-of-66-teacher-discounts/

http://www.bradsdeals.com/blog/teacher-discounts/

Quote 8 May
Businesses come and go. Schools are not businesses. Businesses manage risks by getting rid of losers. Schools keep the losers. Schools are not businesses. They are community institutions.
— 

Diane Ravitch, on why schools should not be treated like businesses

(via Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards | Diane Ravitch’s blog)

Text 7 May Finnish Lessons

I just finished Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg. There was so much wonderful information in there, and it was an inspiring read. However, it reminded me how far we sadly have to go in the U.S. This summary does great service to the original.

For the record, I will share the headings of the most useful chart from the book (page 103), comparing GERM (global education reform movement) with the Finnish way.

Standardized teaching and learning vs Customizing teaching and learning

Focus on literacy and numeracy vs Focus on creative learning

Teaching prescribed curriculum vs Encouraging risk-taking

Borrowing market-oriented reform ideas vs Learning from the past and owning innovations

Test-based accountability and control vs Shared responsibility and trust

Summary of Finnish Lessons via the DailyKos.
(Note: The source, the DailyKos, is a very politicaly liberal website. However, the summary is true to the book’s content — the best and most comprehensive I was able to find online, in fact — and does not editorialize, thus its inclusion.)

View the full table on Google Books here.

Link 26 Mar 10 Lessons From the Best District in the Country | Scholastic.com»

Great article about one school district’s technology integration and how it was successfully achieved and continues to be maintained.  Many key factors were/are involved, but I think the most important thing is the way the technology and the vision for its use permeates every level with very strong supportive structures in place. 

Students, parents, and teachers are all trained in how to utilize the technology, they are supported in every way to make its use seamless, and that expectation and accompanying support is continually reinforced.  Communication, data sharing, and information availability are never neglected.  Administrators are always focused on creating, reinforcing, and using the infrastructure learning technology provides, without it destroying their budget.  The guiding vision is clear to everyone involved — which is, well, everyone! — and reiterated again and again.

Very inspiring!

Link 26 Mar Classroom Organization Tip: Strap on Supplies Rather than Search for Them»

I loved this article about wearing your most commonly needed supplies in a tool belt.  From the article:

On a typical day, I loaded my tool belt with a pocket dictionary, paper clips, tape, rubber bands, pencils, whiteboard markers, index cards, a hole punch, a calculator, a compass, a protractor, and a train whistle (great for getting students’ attention and transitioning from one activity to another…). And I still had room for little things that prevented big disruptions, like when a student reacted to a paper cut as though in need of a blood transfusion. I just reached into my tool belt, whipped out a Band-Aid®, handed it to the “injured” student, and carried on. No digging through drawers, no pass to the nurse, no words exchanged, and most of all, no instructional time lost.

Funny, I had the same exact inspiration when I was teaching, only my choice was to go with a Home Depot canvas apron.  Less than a dollar! 

If a full tool belt is too “manly” for you (as it is for me), you could go with an artist’s or stylist’s smock or apron, a slightly fancier canvas apron, or even a makeup artist’s belt

Text 22 Mar The Vine App

The Vine app is out and the internet is all atwitter about it.  It’s still too new to make any hard and fast judgment calls, but it looks incredibly promising, maybe a bit dangerous, and totally compelling.  In short, Vine is a free iPhone app (soon to come to Android) that allows you to make a 6-second video: either recorded solid from start to finish or as an on-the-fly mashup.  By making the “record button” your entire phone screen, the app stops recording every time you lift your finger, allowing you to reposition yourself or your subject repeatedly throughout the recording.  The 6-second limit is on par with Twitter’s 140-character limitations.  Brevity is king here. 

Here are some web apps to view Vine postings in various niche ways:

  • Vinepeek
    Vinepeek continuously loads random Vine videos for you to view. 
  • Vines Roulette
    Similar to Vinepeek, but also allows you to search out specific hashtags or words from Vine postings.
  • Vines Map
    Vines Map flies you around a map of the world to show you Vine videos as they post, where they’re posting from.
  • All Around the Vines
    Similar to Vines Map, but with the ability to narrow down with hashtags.
  • Just Vined
    Loads — you guessed it — Vine videos just uploaded, again in a grid. 
  • VinesZap
    Similar to Just Vined, random recent Vine videos are loaded in a 3 x 3 grid, however, here you can also filter by hashtag.
  • Vine Viewer
    Search for vines based on hashtag.

Lots to think about with this medium!  Some things that jump out at me immediately:

How can we follow an individual via the web?  There’s no directs stream access online; you have to find postings via Twitter or Facebook to be taken to an individual video, but tracking an individual is not easily possible.  This is similar to the tactic Instagram took, leaving the sorting of users up to various programmers via their API.  I suppose now we just wait for developers to start doing this with Vine.

Privacy is non-existent.  While we are definitely deep in the Era of Overshare, we have learned time and time again via various company snafus that end users want to be able to control the level of privacy they have with their personal information, particularly photos and videos.  As it is now, absolutely everything you put on Vine is accessible to everyone.  Notably, you can post to Twitter and/or Facebook, where you can protect your account using those services’ privacy options, but it’s an all or nothing affair.  It would be nice to pick and choose privacy levels on individual Vine videos, something like: public, friends only, or private.  Or something like imgur’s album settings: public, hidden but accessible to those who have the URL, and secret.  Or!  Maybe four settings: public, hidden, friends only, and private?  I don’t know, but privacy options should be fleshed out a bit more.

Text 19 Mar Teacher: Facilitator of Learning

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a SXSWedu.  Per Wikipedia, South by Southwest (aka SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring (usually in March) in Austin, Texas.  I’m always aware of the event peripherally, thanks to my Lifehacker addiction and general internet consumption, but only this year did I get a whisper of the SXSWedu conference.  Shame on me!

The SmartBlog on Education had an entry about some of the ideas being tossed around at 2013’s SXSWedu as it relates to the concept of teacher as facilitator of learning, one that was certainly a big focus of my own graduate studies.

Here is a summary, but check out the source article for the full details, completely with hyperlinks.

  • Teach students to find the answers.
  • Ignite a spark.
  • Put context before content.
  • Let learning be iffy.
  • Bring students in as curriculum designers. 

Source.

Link 14 Mar Noam Chomsky on the Purpose of Education | Brain Pickings»

The always quotable Chomsky on education.  Video and quotes.

Link 29 Jan Working with Students Who Have a Hard Time Collaborating | Edutopia»

Short article about some of the reasons why your students might not want to collaborate, despite our knowledge of how critical it is in the classroom.  The three reasons in the article are:

  1. Collaboration may clash with her culture. 
  2. He simply may not understand the project or assignment. 
  3. She may be shy or introverted.
Source.
Quote 11 Nov
Reward people for changing their minds when confronted with quality evidence: don’t punish people for “losing” debates. Treat debates and discussion as opportunities to explore the truth of things together rather than confrontations.
— 

— SUGGESTED NORMS for developing group rationality, from How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup Group

Campus & Meetup Groups | Center for Applied Rationality

I came across this group today, and I am incredibly interested in what they’re doing.  Teach people how to use and improve their rational thinking?  YES PLEASE.  


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