A fabulous article that sums up everything I believe about how teachers should be empowered to teach.
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.
Diane Ravitch, on why schools should not be treated like businesses
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
— SUGGESTED NORMS for developing group rationality, from How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup Group
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.
An excerpt from an article on the disappearance of social studies and its civic purpose.
Self-reliance is as American as apple pie. There is nothing new in the idea that I want to make as much money, save as much in taxes, give my children as many advantages as I can. But that race to “get my pile” is always in some conflict with my role as a citizen. In school we try to equip students to do as well as they can in the world. We are also socializing them to become citizens—not just in the minimal sense of their obligations, but in the broader sense of being mutual members engaged in a common project, a common effort, to build a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Media and money make government feel as far off as, well, Reality TV. Most young people think, correctly, that only really rich or famous people get on TV, or can run for office. Ours is a nation so big that governing feels very removed for most adults, and even more so for young people. But democracy is not just about elections and laws—it is about civic duty, it is about the society the people build and maintain together; about relying on one another. The fact that we could edge Social Studies further, and further, and further out of our schools shows what we value: pumping up each individual student for his or her race to somewhere. What will protect those monads, those units of individualism, on their life journeys?
Every man his own castle, every woman standing her ground, every American armed and dangerous. That is what we build when we forget that being part of a society is not just living by a set of rules that we grudgingly obey, but instead what Dr. King called the “inescapable network of mutuality.”
As someone from Florida who earned her degrees in Florida, I follow Florida and it’s standardized test, the FCAT, closely. It is always nice to hear our government officials speaking with insight into how the test has become so damaging. A sample from the piece, as quoted on Diane Ravitch’s blog.
It’s time for parents, teachers and those of us who care to stand up and speak out against the injustices of the FCAT as if the lives of our children depend upon it — because they do. I tried to order an audit of the FCAT in Congress, but it is out of my federal jurisdiction. I call on Gov. Rick Scott and state legislators to demand that Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability begin a forensic study of the FCAT now. There is too much at stake.
Every time a young black male commits murder in Miami, or even at times a lesser crime, I check their school records to see if they have a diploma. Most of them are casualties of the FCAT. I call them the FCAT kids. Whatever happened to career and vocational education?
Not everyone is going to college, period. But everyone needs a key to the next level of education. For goodness sakes, let’s stop this FCAT madness and allow these children to enjoy the music, arts, and sports that we enjoyed in school. Teach them a trade; teach them life skills. Teach them how to write a check, save money, balance a check book, and manage a budget. If we are ever going to dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline and close the achievement gap in Florida, it is time that we as a state take back our children’s education from the hands of the FCAT. It is time to teach, teach, teach — not test, test, test.