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Jeromie Heath engages students by dressing up. Some days he’s Super Mario or a Mad Scientist — other days he’s a pirate. He was even a finalist for People’ Magazine’s teacher of the year (see the video to believe his classroom — notice the standards on the wall – yes, they are still there.) He engages students by immersing them in experiences. On the show, he says, “I’m tapping into their childhood…”If a child feels you have a connection with them… then they start learning. Jeromie HeathPowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
Note from Vicki: Jeromie has so much energy, but also a practical approach to what engages kids. Students don’t remember worksheets, but they’ll remember the MEMORIES. We all need these epic moments. Wow. I just love Jeromie! (I talk about the importance of celebration in Reinventing Writing. Every class at every age needs this.)Add @TeachHeath to your PLN
- Mr. Heath Teacher – his website has tons of teacher math, science, and engagement ideas. (You don’t HAVE to dress up – there are tons here for you.) He’s even made a “Common Core” central page to share with parents.
- Jeromie has a mega awesome YouTube channel with tons of Math and Science Songs including the Math Fractions Song and the Science Rules Song.
SHOW NOTES: Jeromie Heath – Show #84 – Making Learning Fun: Engaging Students with Imagination
Jeromie Heath is an elementary teacher in Seattle, Washington where he makes learning fun. By incorporating imaginative play using songs, games, and costumes, he engages his students in learning. He also uses thematic teaching, games, and music; although he lacks research data, he feels his students perform well on standardized tests.
Jeromie calls teaching an art where teachers build connections with students in order to further learning. While also using Understanding By Design and mastery learning principles, it is the zany dress up costumes that students will remember. Listen now to find out how this works in Mr. Heath’s classroom.
We can be the most amazing prop in our classroom. Vicki DavisPowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly Radio Show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers. Subscribe.
Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters. Note from Vicki Davis: I added quite a bit of my thoughts to these notes as well – so this show outline is really a mashup of us both.Need help listening to the show?
The post Making Learning Fun: Engaging Students with Imagination with @teachheath appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.
There is a new movie about Grace Hopper out in the Internet. The movie is about 16 minutes look and I think it is pretty good. I’m looking for a place in my schedule to show it to my students. Grace Hopper is a long time inspiration for me. I was able to meet her in person back in the early 1970s and hear her speak several times. She was ahead of her time and many ways.
As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code. Passing away in 1992, she left behind an inimitable legacy as a brilliant programmer and pioneering woman in male-dominated fields.
Troubleshooting is higher order thinking. Comparing new software with older software has students thinking at a high level too. So, when new software is released, I use it to teach. Three recent software releases give you a great way to teach technology:
- Announced this week — Windows 10 is free (as a technical preview until October 1, 2015), for consumers.
- With it Microsoft releases a new web browser — SPARTAN to replace Internet Explorer
- The creator of Opera releases another web browser — VIVALDI – out for download.
Here’s how to teach with these three new software programs (without having to install them).Windows 10: RAM, Consumer Upgrades, and Processors
If you are a beginner or novice — the Windows 10 upgrade is NOT FOR YOU. BUT, you can still teach with it.
BEGINNERS SHOULD SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH: Of most interest to me is the ability to have more RAM than the 4 GB that Windows 7 32-bit supports. I did see on the System Requirements that some older 64-bit processors aren’t supported. I am running 32-bit Windows on a 64-bit processor so I’ve been considering an upgrade for a while. I’ll need to dig deeper on this one and may do this early summer. I also have all of my files in Dropbox so if I lose things, I won’t really lose them.
Remember that Windows 10 is still in early release, so beginners won’t be ready to install it now. Wait a little but not too long if this appeals to you – it expires on October 1, 2015. Looks like the charms bar is gone and that the tiles are less prominent. Desktop is back too!Teach Using the Windows 10 Release
- Teach 32 vs 64 bit processors ( see my microprocessor pizza video and lesson.)
- Give students a scenario where someone has a 32 bit processor running Windows 7 and ask them to research and write recommendations if they should upgrade.
- Have students research and explain what an ISO is.
- Have students examine Windows 10 — or even better install it on a machine and ask them to test and write about it.
- What is a technical release? Why would Microsoft give away this operating system?
Windows has a new web browser: SPARTAN. Some are reporting big performance gains with this web browser. Others say that Spartan is Microsoft’s answer to Windows Chrome. Spartan will also support extensions – something Internet Explorer has not.
The coolest thing I’ve seen about Spartan is the ability to write directly on the page (think Skitch) and collaborate with others inside the browser. It looks like Diigo-type behavior but in real time. It also automatically downloads items in the web browser to read later. (think Pocket)
Vivaldi: a new web browser from the original creator of the Opera Web browser. With notes inside the web browser and a fresh innovation called “tab stacks” – whether you use this web browser or not Vivaldi will impact you. There are some new cool features in the technical preview (although extensions aren’t supported yet). This is designed for power users and will even have a mail client built into the browser.Teach Using the Release of Spartan and Vivaldi
- Interestingly, many students don’t know what a web browser is. All students should understand that there are various web browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer (being replaced by Spartan). More advanced students can compare and contrast Opera, Safari, and Vivaldi with other web browsers. Have students test new web browsers and put them in Venn diagrams to compare them.
- Discuss and have students install extensions. (If you use Chrome, Extensity should be the first one you use as it is the extension to rule all extensions. Yes, I’ve blogged about Extensity and made a YouTube video.) Extensions are mentioned in both of the browser release press coverage — why are extensions such a big deal?
- Download Vivaldi on a machine and ask some students to test it. You can have them screenshot or screencast a guide to help others get started.
Remember that innovation is an opportunity to teach. When software is new, students have to use their brain and form opinions because there is so little they can look up online!
I want my students on the leading bleeding edge all the time — not so they can bleed but so that through the struggle, they can learn to lead.I want my students on the leading bleeding edge, not so they can bleed– so they can lead.Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
As our son and his family live in Sth Africa, so we flew to Johannesburg with Qantas to visit them just after Christmas.
A surprise element of this flight was that our flight path took us over the edge of the South Pole. A flight attendant had alerted us to this fact prior to our take off so we were on alert after 6 hours flying and keenly sought advice when we were actually flying over. Despite the fact that lights were out and window shades shut, half the plane awoke, pulled up the shades and looked to see what we could.
We peered closely through the airplane windows and could make out the first icebergs as we flew over. Then we started to sight the sheets of ice and gained a real insight into what the centre of Antarctica might look like.
Access to the windows on the right hand side was keenly sought by other passengers, and we took photos when and where we could. It was exciting for us all as many people pay to take sight seeing flights over the South Pole, but here we were getting that package as part of our flight to Sth Africa.
Please note that my good friend from Russia, Tatyana Chernaya, has asked for some details of this surprise glimpse with her students who are studying the weather.
It is not a New Year’s resolution but I intend to write one blog post a month about what I’ve been reading. Usually I write a roundup of books enjoyed twice a year but these posts do not tend to say much in the sense of being reviews. They are more lists with a few observations. I’d rather read books than review them but certainly have more chance of saying something useful if I post monthly.
January is undoubtedly the best month of the year for sustained personal reading. I really make hay while the summer holidays shine and read a book every couple of days.
This year, there’s been a glut of Orwell’s non fiction, especially essays, opinion pieces and reviews which continue to astound, rarely disappointing with dated or suspect observations. Considering this work is over 70 years old, there’s a sagacity of observation that is quite staggeringly modern in sensibility. I cannot imagine too many journalistic pieces published today being relevant enough to see the light in 2085.
Orwell writes about literature, politics and popular culture. His subjects include the big ‘isms’ – fascism, communism and socialism – but he also writes about seaside postcards, how to brew tea, children’s magazines and advertising. He is interested in the everyday, as well as the big political issues of his times. He has a love of nature and the countryside and is slightly obsessed by eggs. It is factually true to say he is occasionally guilty of being flippantly homophobic but some of the other charges against him (of sexism or anti-semitism are unfounded, not so clear, or at least debatable). I have been surprised that there are not more awkward moments on reading his work in the 21st century.
I have read Orwell’s writing since 1984, the year, as teenagers, we studied his dystopian novel in class and watched the film adaptation. At that time I had no idea about Eric Blair, the man. Even at university when I read Down and Out in Paris and London, as well as a few of his essays, I knew relatively little about Orwell. As a teacher, I have used Animal Farm with classes and this is when the figure behind the novels started to fascinate me and I read more widely. His journalism, reviews and essays are extensive and the most famous pieces are widely anthologised. Politics and the English Language or Why I Write are essays that English students, writers and the generally bookish have read and re-read. However, there are quite a few other essays that have a surprisingly wide readership too, certainly compared to other writers of the period. You will likely enjoy at least some of these dozen of Orwell’s best essays.
I have read these Orwell collections in the last few weeks:
Many of these collections have similar selections so there are quite few to skip (although surprisingly, I found myself reading many pieces again). Orwell never seems to write a bad sentence even though much of what is now published was found after his death and had not been personally prepared for publication. His collected writings make for a better biography (and Orwell forbade the writing of one on his deathbed) then any other written chronology of his life. From his birth in colonial Burma, to his early death from tuberculosis aged just 46, a remarkably complete picture of his existence forms.
There is such truthfulness to his writing about his life. Essays, like Such, Such Were the Joys, an indictment of the schooling system he experienced, have been criticised by some for lacking veracity but considering that this piece was found amongst Orwell’s papers and he did not publish it should be considered. In the essay he discloses many embarrassing facts about his life as well as damning St Cyprians. It certainly matches with my perceptions of what schooling in England entailed and those who have claimed otherwise were ‘Old Boys’ of the school. Oddly enough, Eric Blair likely changed his name to George Orwell as to not embarrass his parents when his writings about living amongst the working classes and sleeping rough were published.
There’s just so much to read. You may be a ‘completist‘ like myself who will enjoy this comprehensive bibliography for Orwell. I did discover that an expensive, twenty volume complete Orwell exists but it truly is more suited for scholars of his work rather than general readers as it is, at least the eleven volumes of his non fiction output, a chronological everything. For example, Facing Unpleasant Facts 1937-39 has many letters that become tedious to read, especially as one never sees the reply. I found myself skimming quite a few. For most, a selection of reviews, essays, letters, diary entries and the like is better than the these encyclopaedic volumes. However, for anyone researching Orwell it is an important and magisterial resource.Why Orwell?
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
I unexpectedly picked up Homage to Catalonia (I had two unread copies on my shelf) late last year when looking for another book and started reading it in the dusty garage library under our house. This lasted for about an hour, until the children found me. Later that night I finished it. Orwell’s voice is compelling. His praise of the Manchester Guardian and advice to his readers is what really stayed with me after completing the book:
And I hope the account I have given is not too misleading. I believe that on such an issue as this no one is or can be completely truthful. It is difficult to be certain about anything except what you have seen with your own eyes, and consciously or unconsciously everyone writes as a partisan. In case I have not said this somewhere earlier in the book I will say it now: beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events. And beware of exactly the same things when you read any other book on this period of the Spanish war.
Not many writers ask their readers to be wary of their own writing.
At about the same time I read a review of a new collection by the ‘elderly’, indefatigable editor of Orwell’s work, Peter Davison. Seeing Things as They Are: Selected Journalism and Other Writings is just exceptional and I am so glad that I forked out for the hardback (thanks to booko.com.au it was half what the bricks & mortar stores are charging). It is very difficult to find a selection of Orwell’s non fiction that does not have many essays read previously but not so with this collection which has the best of his reviews and opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines many of them not readily available. Indeed, I had not realised that Orwell did so much broadcasting for the BBC, especially for an Indian audience. Orwell correctly felt that Churchill’s intransigence towards independence for India was a blight but equally, he was suspicious of Gandhi’s religious extremism, as well as doubting if pacifism could work in other contexts.
The following is an excerpt from a broadcast made in 1941 about ‘literature and totalitarianism’ that is terribly important, not just when thinking about Orwell but for judging contemporary authors, journalists and essayists:
The whole of modern European literature – I am speaking of the literature of the last four hundred years – is built on the concept of intellectual honesty, or, if you like to put it that way, on Shakespeare’s maxim, ‘To thine own self be true’. The first thing we ask of a writer is that he shan’t tell lies, that he shall say what he really thinks, what he really feels. The worst thing we can say about a work of art is that it is insincere.
We see these ideals time and time again in Orwell’s work.
Orwell’s sincere attempt to see things as they are meant he was prepared to be critical of fellow ideological travellers, not just those with different points of view. Many literati, often those of ‘The Left’, grew to be very unhappy with Orwell into the 1940s as he continued to be critical of socialism, especially Stalin’s Russia.
By 1946 Orwell’s essays and style were being analysed on radio. It was evident to these commentators that he was neither lowbrow or highbrow but stood for common sense. He wanted to speak the truth and worked out how it was he could best convey his ideas honestly. Daniel George called it “the extreme plausibility of George Orwell’s style”. This critique captures what it is about this writer which has enabled him appeal on either side of a yawning ideological chasm, simply put, he wants to speak the truth and consequently, sounds believable.
Often when I read reviews and contemporary essays in literary journals it is clear that an intellectual game is being played and who knows what the writer really thinks about the book, film or idea. When one has been reading Orwell’s writing, this contemporary disingenuousness, is quite stark. Orwell’s direct, unadorned prose stands in direct contarst to the convoluted styles employed by some academics and others who should know better.
I have much left to read before feeling I can put Orwell back on the shelf. The good news is I want to read more. The bad news is a couple of his novels, admittedly started in a half-hearted way have previously defeated me but I will try again. Indeed, the author requested that A Clergyman’s Daughter never be reprinted.
I may respect Orwell’s wish on this one.One good book leads to another
I have read both of these books (covers above) about Orwell previously – the Raymond Williams‘ well over twenty years ago and Hitchens’ tome when it was published at the beginning of the 21st century – but my renewed interest in the author has led me back to both. Reading them in quick succession this month was illuminating. Hitchens’ and Williams’ readers should take to heart Orwell’s advice, from Homage to Catalonia (and many other writings) about deliberate, or otherwise, distortions of the facts. Both are more than a little guilty of doing this.
Hitchens’, grinding his axe against ‘The Left’, complains that Williams reviews Orwell unfairly for purely ideologically reasons. Ironically, Hitchens does something very similar in his book to Williams. It seems more about Hitchens’ rejection of his New Left intellectual origins than commentary about Orwell. At no time does Hitchens mention he was formerly a Trotskyist himself and this is surprising considering how any book about Orwell should have truth-telling high on the agenda. Terry Eagleton, with wry wit, writes amusingly about Hitchens – when reviewing new biographies of Orwell – and makes a good point with his comparison of the writers. Hitchens is quite happy to be a ‘New Orwell’, decrying pacifism in the face of aggression and advocating fighting for freedom, confirming his support of the ‘hawkish’ neo-conservative policies in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time of publication and following decade until his death.
“To sing you must first open your mouth. You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music. It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar. The essential thing is to want to sing. This then is a song. I am singing.” Tropic of Cancer
I never read Henry Miller for similar reasons to why Charles Bukowski never found his way onto the pile. This has been a serious oversight rectified by reading George Orwell’s review in New English Weekly (Nov. 1935) of Tropic of Cancer and re-reading his essay, Inside the Whale. How could one not want to read Miller after Orwell describes him as:
…the only imaginative prose-writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races for some years past. Even if that is objected to as an overstatement, it will probably be admitted that Miller is a writer out of the ordinary, worth more than a single glance; and after all, he is a completely negative, unconstructive, amoral writer, a mere Jonah, a passive acceptor of evil, a sort of Whitman among the corpses.
Tropic of Cancer is a stunning novel in many ways. Most notably, Miller provides what we all want; the writing soon fades and nothing stands between the experience and the reader. The prose is stunning, as is the debauchery. It is still, over 70 years later, quite shockingly debased.
Miller was a pacifist and thought Orwell quite mad for heading to Spain to fight. It is hard to imagine two value systems, united by prose, being so vast different. Orwell, although a critic of the establisment, was never going to be a counter-culture figure like Miller. Orwell worked from the inside. Miller would never have been allowed a seat at the table.
Here is a timeline that outlines Miller and Orwell’s relationship.
Richard Flanagan’s, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, led me to hunt down a book by the author’s father (and brother). The Line explores Arch Flanagan’s experiences as a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway and his son Martin’s quest to understand his father’s time ‘on the line’. What I found remarkable was how much of the Arch’s experiences and stories have found their way into Flanagan’s Man Booker Award winning novel. Some of the most memorable episodes in the novel are representations of real events and characters. It shows how much fiction can be based very closely on real events; the character of Darkie and the freeing of the fish in particular. Arch Flanagan knew ‘Weary’ Dunlop and indeed, wrote a tribute for him. There would be few Australians who read Flanagan’s novel without thinking that ‘Dorigo’ Evans, the protagonist, was largely based on the historical figure of Dunlop. Richard Flanagan acknowledges the inspiration behind the book but Arch Flanagan’s memoirs tend to confirm this even more than one suspected.More fiction
You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice — they won’t hear you otherwise — “I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven’t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I’m beginning to read Italo Calvino’s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don’t say anything: just hope they’ll leave you alone.
If on a winter’s night a traveller by Italo Calvino opens so delectably that one wants to plunge on into the story but unfortunately, by the end this reader found it just as disappointing as experimental. The first quarter of the book had me enthralled but page after page it just became less interesting. An admirable, postmodern, piece of writing but ultimately, not one that I’d recommend to you.
is a new favourite. A couple of years ago I read the first book in his cleverly structured Kingkiller Chronicle and loved it. The second book is not as strong but still wonderfully immersive fantasy. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is not the third part of the trilogy but a meditation, of sorts, exploring a popular character’s world. The book opens and closes with Rothfuss explaining a little about how he came to publish this story about Auri that does not follow the usually conventions of the genre. To be honest, this saves the book which, although well-written and a pleasant experience feels more like publishing an author’s character notes. I should note that Rothfuss does have much better female characters than most fantasy writers manage. His justification of this quite self-indulgent piece tends to revolve around the fact that he knows you may not like the book but enough people want to be in Auri’s world, the damaged one’s among us, that he feels justified in publishing it. If he was an unknown author it would never have been published. It certainly sold well and I still look forward to book 3 of the trilogy.
I intend to read all of the Shardlake series and enjoyed Dark Fire, the second book in this wonderful series of historical mysteries. I plunging heavily into the Tudor world at present (more on that later and in February) and admire Sansom’s ability to recreate the period so convincingly for the reader. I never read mysteries so this is indeed good to holm my interest. I am also keen to start his novel set during the Spanish Civil War, Winter in Madrid.
Here is my complete January reading list.Next Month
More Miller and Orwell will be on the February menu but I will start to digest Northern Lights: The Positive Policy Example of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway by Andrew Scott the moment I finish this blog post. It is wonderful to see a growing number of Australians realising that there are policy options rather than merely pursuing rat eat rat models of existence that have been so popular in recent decades.
I eagerly await Hilary Mantel‘s final book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, due out later in the year, that explores the last four years of Thomas Cromwell‘s life. There are some books that demand re-reading. I have started Wolf Hall again as the critics heap praise on the BBC adaptation. It is not possible to recommend a book more highly than this one. Do yourself a favour, read it before watching the tv series.
NB I am still quixotically ploughing through Cervantes.
Featured image: Screenshot of my Shelfari page for January
What have you read recently?
The #BellLetsTalk hashtag has been a great initiative to not only raise money for mental health initiatives in Canada, but to promote conversations about the topic amongst individuals. Our understanding of mental health has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
Today, I am working with a group on how we can help improve mental health of our world through our schools. My caution to the group is that we have to be really weary of creating another initiative that eventually causes more work and anxiety for teachers, but to think about how to do things differently. It is not about doing more, but doing things different and better.
Simply though. school culture is huge in mental wellness and there are a lot of things school can do that are not “programs” but just become a part of our every day world in schools.
Here are some ideas that I think are crucial to not only improving mental health, but to also promoting creativity and innovation in schools. The more comfortable I feel in my environment, the better I will do.
- If you are a principal, start every morning welcoming kids at the front of the school. If you are a teacher, welcome kids when they come to their class.
- Never pass a student or an adult in a hallway without acknowledging them in some way. Every person in that school is important and should be treated accordingly.
- See supervision as not “more work”, but an opportunity to get to know students that aren’t in your classroom. We need “school teachers” not “classroom teachers”.
- Invest time in conversations with kids that have nothing to do with school. 10 minutes showing you care about another human being will often lead to them moving mountains.
- Focus on strengths, not weaknesses. People will always get better when they know they are valued first.
- If a student is having an issue, sending them to another adult tells them that a) you don’t value them enough to spend the time with them or b) you are not able to deal with it. Severing this relationship has a long term impact.
- Laugh and have fun. It is contagious.
Think about this practice…if your boss walks into your classroom, do you get out of your desk to greet them? If you do, is it because you consider them important? We should treat kids with the same response. Every person that walks into a school should feel that they are highly valued.
If we are wanting to improve mental health in schools, we can make a huge impact by treating school as a place of, as Dean Shareski would say, a place of joy. If people want to be there and are happy, comfortable, and feel safe, schools will move a lot further than if these things were absent.
As Rita Pierson stated, “every kid needs a champion.” So does every adult.
I was having a conversation with a teacher the other day, that does some very innovative things in the classrooms and is a master of relationships with students. She does amazing things, and by the end of the year, kids are better for having her as their teacher.
One comment she made to me, really made me think about some of the things that we say in education. She had said that sometimes she will give students a worksheet, because sometimes that is what works for students. Although she does this, she feels guilty because so many people talk about how you should never use “worksheets” with a student, but sometimes in her class, she feels that is what is sometimes needed.
Personally, I have talked about worksheets in the classroom, and I would say that I used to speak in absolutes, but now I say that once in awhile, if a teacher deems that it is beneficial, there is nothing wrong with a worksheet. If using worksheets is a consistent practice though, that is an entirely different story. I have actually had some parents say to me that it this practice is sometimes beneficial to their child because of the structure that it provides. Their voice matters.
If you think about it, how many amazing teachers do you know that have used worksheets in their practice? I know many. My fear is that when we make statements that are absolutes, we marginalize a lot of great teachers in the process. It is important that we always question our practice, but it is also important to understand that if a teacher is really great, they should know their students better than anyone, and that based on those relationships, they make decisions on how to best serve those students.
There is not one thing that works for every community and for every child. Even a totally “innovative” practice that becomes “standardized” for every student, all of the time, does not serve all students. Standardization is standardization. Choice and variety is essential. Some things that work for us, might not work for our students, and vice versa. Although we need to challenge what school looks like, we also have to trust that there are many teachers that are doing a variety of things to ensure that students are successful.
Could that sometimes be in the form of a worksheet?
Oh, dear friends and fellow educators — you are in the throes of January. A teacher at church admitted to me just this past Sunday that this time of the year she lies awake at night figuring out how to better teach this or that. Brrr. The tests are coming. Such things dominate the minds and can cloud the hearts of great teachers who believe (rightly so) that too much testing obscures what we’re here to do.
Dear teacher, have hope. There are things to do and precious children to love on and teach. Some of them are struggling, and the last thing on their mind is a test in April or March or whenever. They don’t care about those things because they are hurting. They need a kind word. They need someone to call them by name. They have strengths to discover, and that can’t wait until June when testing is over. You might feel like you can’t give hope to others. You need it too much yourself right now — but let me remind you of something, dear teacher: you are the hope.
Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games, has her character Katniss in the worst of situations — in an arena being forced to fight to the death. Survival is all these children think. Collins penned,
“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.”
Some of these children are just fighting to survive. To these precious ones who need us most — you, my friends and teachers — you are someone’s last hope. They need you to whisper words like those written by Shel Silverstein — the author/artist who penned books like Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree,
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Famed neurosurgeon, Ben Carson tells a story of how his fifth-grade teacher noticed that he knew everything about rocks. For some reason, Ben was fascinated by them. So, the teacher pointed it out to the class and asked Ben to stay after school. He encouraged Ben to start a rock collection and said he’d help. That whisper of “Anything can be” to the poor child of a single mom struggling to make it — made all the difference in Ben’s life. Ben is now a neurosurgeon AND a best selling author.In all things it is better to hope than despair. GoethePowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
So the days may be dark, and you may be awake at night thinking about the test. But when you’re tempted to work yourself into a fury, let me remind you — think about THEM. Think about your students: what are their strengths? What are the things they do well?
Last night we were at the school meeting with seniors to get their YouScience results. This amazing assessment (that I highly recommend, by the way– do those words go together — LOL), gives students a 50-page report on their aptitudes and abilities. These students are tired and in the midst of term paper season, basketball season, dance recitals and everything else — they came out with their parents to learn about themselves. Some learned they had aptitudes for some things and their eyes opened. It was joyful to see parents say “this so nailed my child – this is just like him/her”. Why were they so excited about a test: because this assessment revealed their strengths and didn’t focus on their weaknesses. (Disclosure: My students are a pilot school doing research for YouScience.)
So, you can’t do anything about that blasted test you have to administer. And you do have to teach all of this stuff. But I’m begging you not to forget the STRENGTHS. I’m begging you not to forget the gifts in your classroom.Learning can’t start without a connection of the heart.Powered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
Learning can’t start without a connection of the heart. Hope without action is fantasy. Dreams become reality through hope accompanied by a consistent daily habit of moving towards your dream. You have a dream – at least I hope you do – of reaching each of these children and helping them be their best. Don’t make excuses – make possibilities.
The author of the Little Prince and famed French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry saidWhat makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. Antoine de Saint-ExuperyPowered By the Tweet This PluginTweet This
You’ve got darkness and hate causing these little precious children to struggle. It is not their fault. It is, however, our fault if we let a test blot out all remembrance of what we are here to do. We cannot let our objectives make us lose sight of our primary objectives.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” penned Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are many who will tell you that you don’t have time to love… you’ve got to test.
There will be others who will frown and say you have to teach and cannot find a child’s strength… you’ve got the test.
I’ll tell you that you can’t have teaching without love and trying to find a child’s strengths. For within every great teacher I’ve ever known is the deep-seated desire to build a better future by educating the minds of today’s students.
Every great teacher I’ve ever known taught me an incredible volume while also teaching me how to live life. I’ll quote a few lines from Edgar Guest’s great poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” to those people who say we can’t teach and test:
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That ‘maybe it couldn’t’ but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done and He did it.
Here’s to all of you hope givers. Here’s to all of you exceptional people doing every day what others say can’t be done. Here’s to you, teacher, hope giver, hero of the next generation. Let’s don’t let the cold days of January and the hot tests of tomorrow dampen our passion for what we must be doing today.
Teach on, noble teacher, have hope. You can do this.
Some interesting articles in the weekend papers calling for the teaching of martial arts and alcohol education in schools to address the issues of bullying and binge-drinking.
It seems that whenever there is a need to change behaviours or address attitudes we look to the curriculum. Is this the role of a curriculum? Is it the responsibility of schools?
If the role of schools is to promote the growth of students and their learning – to teach students them how to be critical thinkers and responsible citizens, then shouldn’t this naturally lead to a change in behaviours?
I think the calls to introduce things like for example, alcohol education, while important social issues, only muddy the waters. As John Hattie has said debate seems to be fixated on the test-outcome-based questions rather than an intelligent debate about what is worth ‘preserving in our society, and what is worth knowing in order to live the desired ‘good life’.
In an era of information and curriculum overload, it is important for the profession to discern which knowledge is significant and timely. Just-in-time learning (learning that is relevant to students’ lives) must be given priority over the just-in-case learning which can so easily crowd the learning.
As Michael Fullan says we must be relentless focussed on the things that actually make a difference. This means continually reminding ourselves of what’s really important in the work of the school. Martial arts and alcohol education may be helpful but is it essential?
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli made an excellent point in relation to alcohol education, which is parents also have an important role in educating their children. Pauline Lysaght, Associate Director Early Start at the University of Wollongong believes that while teachers are influential in reinforcing behaviours within the school context, the responsibility for establishing a knowledge base and encouraging behaviours rests with parents.
When there are vigorous calls to continually pare down the curriculum (similar to Singapore’s approach), why do we waste valuable time proposing ways of over-loading it?
- "EdFest is a free national virtual conference which will be filmed and the live stream broadcast right here in the Scootle Lounge from 9:00am-4:00pm AEDT on January 27th." - Roland Gesthuizen
A new semester starts for me today. Since I only teach semester courses that means a whole new group of students to meet and teach. I have spent much of the weekend retooling my plan for the semester based on what I learned last semester. My goal is always to teach each new group of students better than I taught the last group. Wish me luck!
Guest speakers are often hard to arrange but can add a lot to student experience and learning. Over the weekend I learn about a program to provide Guest Speakers in Computer Science via Skype. This looks pretty interesting to me.
Ontario CS and Computer Tech teachers, don't forget to register for the ACSE Conference on Feb 28! Looks like a great conference. If it were just a little bit closer I think I would try to attend myself.
I thought this was interesting. Retiring Python as a Teaching Language a number of teachers have pointed out that there are tools for solving all the “problems” with Python that this brings up. I link to it manly to show the thinking that goes behind decisions on languages. And as a suggestion to look more than superficially for answers.
I always talk about what makes a good password with students. Having an updated list of really bad and yet still common passwords hanging on my bulletin board starts a lot of conversations. SO this article “123456” Maintains the Top Spot on SplashData’s Annual “Worst Passwords” List means my board gets updated today.
My big post last week was: Robots For Teaching Programming What am I missing? Are you using something not on my list? Please let me know.
- Some interesting tools and how they might be used mentioned in the post. "In the past, limited access placed a hardship on teachers to meet the diverse needs of their students, especially when school resources are limited. In this brave new world, we are fortunate to live and work in an environment where the possibilities are endless for getting students what they need when they need it, and in a format that works best for them. How are you tapping possibilities to meet learner needs?" - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
- "A nice infographic that helps to show some of the differences between personalized learning and traditional learning" - Rhondda Powling
by: Rhondda Powling
Today is Australia Day, a time for us as Australians to celebrate what we enjoy and experience in our wonderful country. It is a day of celebrations, ceremonies, relaxation, barbecues, enjoyment of our great outdoors and socialization. It is a public holiday for all.
It is also of interest that it is Republic Day for India and much as I would love to connect our students with those in India, school has not yet returned for us. So special thoughts go to our friends from India also on this special day. Yesterday was Chinese New Year. The week is full of many festivities.
I was adopted as a baby. My adoptive parents made no secret of that fact but never had any information they could share about my ancestry. I often wondered what my ancestors had experienced and where they originated. It made me sad that I would likely never know. It was not something I talked about and if the topic came up I was very philosophical about it all.
At school my favourite subject was history and I read obsessively about the past at home. In primary school we did family trees. It made me feel funny. I placed my parents, and their parents, my brother and sister on the teacher’s sheet but it was just awkward inside. I imagine many adoptees feel this way. A concept, discovered in Ancient History, when studying Marius’ consulship, of the ‘novus homo’ or ‘new man’, if your Latin is rusty, really appealed. I liked the idea of being the first of my line. It certainly was a practical solution to not knowing anything about my biological parents or their origins, albeit a tad romantic.
I read William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘The Ruined Cottage’, as a teenager and its melancholy truth appealed on many levels. The tale told by the old man, who conveys the story of Margaret and her travails to the poet as he looks on the crumbling ruin, illuminating what was unknown and soon to be unknowable, has always been remembered when many other poems have faded from mind. The family historian, peering into the fog of the past, in an attempt to understand what has happened, would often like such guidance; if only someone knew and could speak.
I see around me here
Things which you cannot see: we die, my Friend,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth
Dies with him, or is changed; and very soon
Even of the good is no memorial left.
William Wordsworth, from ‘The Ruined Cottage’
With the unravelling of the human genome it seemed that what was previously hidden from view has been miraculously revealed. Our DNA held both personal and our collective human history. There was a ‘memorial’. A really ancient one that stretched back to Africa and the trail could now be traced.
A friend who is also interested in ‘citizen science’ told me about how he had ‘’taken a swab as part of National Geographic’s DNA experiment’’ and I decided this would be interesting. I knew very little about the science of the process and even less about how genealogists were using this data for research. The Genographic Project enables participants to learn about their ‘deep ancestry’. I discovered that my two reference groups were ‘Danish’ and ‘Tuscan’. I also discovered that my paternal haplogroup was I-M26 and the maternal one, U4. I did a great deal of reading and online research to try to understand this relatively new science.
Further research revealed that indeed, my biological ancestors had immigrated to the North Queensland cane fields from Denmark and Italy. Unbelievably, as I had loved living in Denmark just a few years ago and had no inkling of this, my Danish ancestry stretched back to the 14th century – with documentation. I really had felt at home in Viborg.
Strangely enough, other places, in other countries that had resounded with me when I travelled or lived there, were overgrown with ancestral trails. There were all kinds of strange coincidences. Who’d have guessed that a boy named ‘Darcy’ by his adoptive parents would discover that his biological third cousin, eight times removed, was Jane Austen?
My own partner, her parents and my adoptive family are all now participating – as citizen scientists – in the Genographic Project and some amazing discoveries have been made. What fascinates is that the paper trail, increasingly digitised and online, complements the DNA data. It confirms suspicions and opens new lines of inquiry. Our children were flabbergasted to discover they share common ancestors with the Sami people of Finland. It took a great deal of traditional research to see how that was indeed possible after being presented with the analysis from National Geographic. A birth certificate was discovered that had a previously unknown Chinese-Australian ancestor, in our otherwise very European family, with the surname of Jipp. It all started to make sense.
Research into my adoptive family’s tree has proven equally rewarding. My father’s earliest ancestor to arrive in Australia, as a convict in 1826, lived approximately 10 kilometres from my current residence. My mum’s tree stretches back to 16th century Yorkshire and I suspect, when we get her DNA analysis back, that she may have some ‘Viking’ in her too.
We are all connected and understanding how is within grasp. Our deep ancestry can now be revealed with a simple cheek swab and Dr Spencer Wells, the Director of the Genographic Project, is indeed correct to say that “the greatest history book ever written is the one hidden in our DNA”. The pleasure of traditional genealogical research makes for wonderfully insightful reading and is to be treasured too.
Featured image: This article was originally published in Family Tree (December, 2014)
- What services like Google Now and Evernote Context suggest for the future of knowledge? - Nigel Coutts
- yes i like. education are future life.
http://bit.ly/1y9WeYC - sulmahmud1
by: Nigel Coutts
Recently in a workshop, I told participants that I was about to ask a question that might bother some of them. Then I asked the question, “in school today, what do you think is more important to teach today; how to write an essay or how to write a blog?” I told them that this was meant to challenge them a bit, and that, if you really think about it, is it more likely that a student writes a blog after school or an essay? Some people were visibly bothered by the question. That was kind of the point.
One teacher started to challenge the question, and said, “part of my job, is to prepare kids for their next step, and many of them will have to write an essay in post-secondary.” She then told me that the majority of her students were probably going to go to university and writing a proper essay is crucial.
I then asked, “what if you were teaching students that weren’t likely to go to university; would the answer change?” You could see that she was thinking about if the answer would change. We then talked about the idea of writing an essay and sharing it through a blog. Would a student writing for more than a teacher, but for an audience, improve the quality of work?
Ultimately, I don’t have a position on the question. I never did. Different students will need different things, and writing a blog post and an essay could be helpful with different aspects of learning, and a combination of both could also be powerful. The more a student writes, the better they will become at writing.
The point of the question was not to get an answer. The point of the question was to think about why we do what we do. If you have students write essays because students have always written essays, that is not a good answer. It has to go deeper than that.
The more questions we ask to really think about what we do in education, the better off we are. What would your question be?
I’ve been doing some work recently with a school that’s using iPads with their kids, and was asked to give a talk on the topic “The place of iPads in teaching and learning”. This post is just a bit of thinking out loud about that question.
Let me start by saying that I think the iPad is an amazing piece of technology. I dispute the common claim about iPads just being “consumption devices”. That’s a load of nonsense. Used wisely, iPads open up incredible opportunities for creativity. This point was driven home during my recent 365 project, The Daily Create, where I made a creative “thing” every day during 2014. Although this project wasn’t specifically based on using an iPad, the truth is that at least 80% of what I came up with over the course of the year was made on an iPad. Whether it was photo editing, making graphics, editing movies, composing music, building animations and 3D objects, or even just writing, the iPad was a perfectly credible tool for creation. And of course the actual management of the Daily Create project via a blog was mostly also all done on the iPad. So I know that the iPad can help people do amazing things.
Of course, that’s not to say it’s not also a great consumption device. For reading eBooks, watching videos, listening to podcasts or music, browsing the web, playing games and so on, the iPad is a convenient, intuitive easy-to-use device that, for the most part, “just works”.
So yes, I like the iPad. But just because you can do certain things on a device does not necessarily mean it’s the best device to be doing them on. So the iPad, as a tool, needs to be kept in that perspective. While it’s capable of most things, it’s great at some and not so good at others.
For example, I’m typing this post on a Chromebook. Why not an iPad? Well, as much as I like iPads, I prefer the writing and editing experience on a device with a real keyboard. I like the extra screen area, the ergonomics of sitting it comfortably on my lap, and having a physical non-modal keyboard. Could I type a piece of writing like this on an iPad? Sure I could (and have), but if given a choice I prefer to pick the tool that works best for me for that given task.
This is one of the reasons my school has gone down the path of having a combination of both iPads and Chromebooks. There are times when one is simply a better option than the other. They both have such unique strengths, and to exclusively choose one over the other tends to just highlights the weaknesses of each. That said, if you only have a choice of one or the other, either will be perfectly fine.
So back to the original question… “what is the place of iPads in teaching and learning?” It’s a loaded question really, because it begs the bigger question, “what is the place of technology in general in teaching and learning”. And to take it a step further, I think you should probably be asking the much bigger question “what is the point of teaching and learning anyway?” Thinking about the place that a particular technology might have in the teaching and learning process first requires you to think about what you’re trying to achieve in the first place.
Figuring out the place of iPads in teaching and learning should be pretty obvious once you know what you want teaching and learning to look like to start with. If you’re clear on the big idea of why, then seeing how is easy. You simply ask yourself whether this technology is helping you get closer to your goal or not. If it is, it has a place. It it doesn’t, then maybe not.
The school that asked me this question seems to have a pretty clear educational direction for what they are trying to achieve, and how they believe the teaching and learning process should look.
For a start, they want their learning to be transdisciplinary. The transdisciplinary model for teaching and learning is highly inquiry based and values collaboration, teamwork, curiosity and interconnectedness. It’s more than just thinking about a topic from different perspectives (that’s multidisciplinary) or by thinking about a topic by combining different subjects together like maths and science (that’s interdisciplinary). The idea of making the learning transdisciplinary involves bringing together multiple subject areas in such a way that the learning transcends the curriculum and becomes more than just the sum of its parts. If you’re a PYP school this should all sound quite familiar as it forms the foundation of that program. By taking a transdisciplinary approach the aim is to bring a more authentic, open-ended, personalised, contextual learning experience to each student.
Threaded through this core model for learning is a highly inquiry-based approach, a strong belief in differentiation according to student needs, flexible learning paths, and a fundamental goal for students to build their own learning through a Constructivist approach.
Would an iPad help support that kind of learning? Yeah, I think it would.
Steve Jobs once described computers as a “bicycle for the mind”, a metaphor borrowed from a study on locomotive efficiency in animals. Apparently for humans, walking is incredibly inefficient. Other animals can travel much further with far less energy. Steve observed how humbling it was for humans to be placed so far down the efficiency scale compared to other animals. However, he observed, if you allow a human to use a bicycle they become the animal with the most efficient form of locomotion of all. The larger point is that the right tool can make a big difference to what we are capable of.
Being given an opportunity to learn on your own terms, in ways that make sense to you, about things that interest you the most, forms the foundation of great learning. But without an effective tool to help, you’ll be like a human without a bicycle. You’ll probably get there, but it will take so much more work than it should.
So all of that pondering just leads me to my main idea, that giving a student an iPad (or any other piece of technology that helps them think more efficiently) can be a powerful thing. I think we intuitively know that, but it sometimes helps to step back and think about why we know it. And I think the “bicycle for the mind” idea is a pretty decent metaphor for why technology in the classroom can help support the kind of learning that we want. It can helps reduce the friction in curiosity, wonder, creativity and inquiry, and makes that process more efficient.
On the most basic level, having a device in the hands of a student that places them one click away of the sum of all human knowledge is in itself a pretty amazing advantage. (and one that no generation before them has ever had, by the way). We talk a lot about these devices helping students “connect, collaborate and communicate” so the simple idea of just being able to “look stuff up on the Internet” may not sound very impressive. But even though this might not be the wow factor that makes these devices “revolutionary and magical”, it’s still a pretty useful thing! To be able to look up a word, find a definition, peruse a map, verify a fact, ask a question or see a picture of something – instantly – is amazing. Don’t underestimate the power of that!
If you’re running a classroom based on an inquiry model, the iPad truly can act as that “bicycle for the mind” machine that helps a curious kid instantly connect to any fact or statistic they need to keep inquiring. iPads are transdisciplinary in the sense that they don’t silo information into arbitrary subjects. A query is a query. Curiosity does not have to limit itself to whether something is “science” or “maths” or “art”. Picking up an iPad and asking “OK Google, what type of lettuce is used in a Caesar salad?” and finding out that it is Romaine lettuce, and then wondering why it was named Caesar salad, or where it was invented, or whether it’s less fattening than a regular salad, or how you make a crouton, or the million and one other questions that might spring to mind as your questions cascade from one to the next… that’s just one small reason why technology makes sense in an inquiry based classroom.
Of course it’s much more than that though. You can wonder something, learn about it, and respond to it by making something with that information. It can be the tool by which a student can respond to their own curiosity. An iPad is amazing because it is a not one thing. It’s a notebook, a camera, a recording studio, a stopwatch, an atlas, a sketchbook, an editing suite, a music synthesizer, an artroom. It lets you compose, create and explore ideas. It’s screen instantly changes to become whatever tool you need it to be. There is really nothing else like it in that respect.
Using an iPad you can publish a short story, compose a soundtrack or produce a film clip. You can build a 3D model of a house, record a timelapse of a science experiment, or add augmented reality to a poster. There are literally millions of apps in the App Store so whatever you might want to do, you can almost guarantee “there’s an app for that”.
Finally the iPad is an incredible tool for communicating and collaborating, from having access to email, to messaging, to videoconferencing, to cloud computing. The world truly can be your oyster. You can collaborate with amazing cloud-based tools that let students form crosscultural, transdisciplinary teams to work on projects that are authentic, meaningful and real.
Of course, in reality none of this is terribly new. In 1971, Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon published a paper titled “20 Things to do with a Computer” in which their key assertion was that computers are capable of doing so much more if we allow them to be used creatively, and that the real reason to introduce computers into schools is to empower students. If a computer (or an iPad) is not being used to give agency to student learning then we have missed the whole point of having them.
Introducing computers (or iPads) into classrooms is not about better forms of testing students or NAPLAN preparation or math drills. It’s not about data management, not about saving money, not about impressing parents and not about keeping up with the school down the road. It’s about giving students agency and independence to take control of their own learning. And with that simple goal usually comes a whole lot of change. Sometimes quite painful change, but change that has to happen.
Adding technology to a classroom without reimagining how that classroom works, and rethinking what your students can do because of that technology, is a waste of time and money. Providing technology to students gives them an opportunity to do not just the same old things they’ve always done, except now with a shiny new tool… No. we now have an incredible opportunity to do entirely new things that were never possible before, using an amazing array of digital tools designed to create, and reinventing the way the way we think about teaching and learning.
Giving students iPads and not making fundamental shifts in how we teach and learn would be like giving them that bicycle for their minds, but then expecting them to push it and walk along beside it.If they are to get the true potential from that bicycle you need to let them get on it, get the wind in their face and ride the damn thing.
Categories: , Planet
- "This post will help you decide whether or not a portfolio will serve your professional goals and how to go about designing a professional-looking site that showcases your teaching skills." (para. 1, 2015.01.24) - Paul Beaufait
- It’s best simple way to appoint students, additionally – advance their applied skills. Strongly advance to try out . http://bit.ly/1y9WeYC - sulmahmud1
by: Paul Beaufait
Even I am surprised by the sheer – dare I say it – stupidity, of the people interviewed in this clip posted by Jimmy Kimmel Live.
But wait for it, you need to see this list from Mashable of the 25 most common passwords, derived from 3 million passwords leaked online last year apparently.
1. 123456 (Unchanged from 2013)
2. password (Unchanged)
3. 12345 (Up 17)
4. 12345678 (Down 1)
5. qwerty (Down 1)
6. 234567890 (Unchanged)
7. 1234 (Up 9)
8. baseball (New)
9. dragon (New)
10. football (New)
11. 1234567 (Down 4)
12. monkey (Up 5)
13. letmein (Up 1)
14. abc123 (Down 9)
15. 111111 (Down 8)
16. mustang (New)
17. access (New)
18. shadow (Unchanged)
19. master (New)
20. michael (New)
21. superman (New)
22. 696969 (New)
23. 123123 (Down 12)
24. batman (New)
25. trustno1 (Down 1)
If you’re reading that list and identify a password you’re currently using, then trust me, you do need help. Watch the following from Mozilla that I’ve used with Year 5 students who, in their youthful enthusiasm, think it’s a good idea to share their passwords with their friends.
Something to start the school year with!
Enjoy your weekend. I’m planning on doing just that. :)