Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One of the biggest things on my mind has been School 2.0. For anyone who hasn't heard of this already this is school changing from the 1.0 Industrial Age Instructional model to a new version, An Information Age collaboration model if you will. There is a lot of discussion that ebbs and flows in the blog universe, sometimes its general, sometimes its focused. To me it seems there are three major areas of change.
I. Technology has enabled a multitude of new tools that can be used for instructional tasks, both online as Web 2.0 (a whole other discussion), and for just within the classroom. Teacher must learn to adapt their content presentation skills to assimilate these tools in a day to day fashion in order to help prepare students for their own use of these tools in their lives.
II. The exponential increase in information and the freedom of access to that information means that students must be taught not just the tools for access but new skills for evaluating the quality, reliability, and usefulness of that information. Students can no longer accept that it's OK because it's in the book mentality. (An attitude that at least one of my teachers in high school hated anyway) They must also how to avoid falling into the temptations and distractions that run side by side with this information access. Playing games, watching videos, looking up friends in My Space, Text Messaging buddies across the room... Banning these things from the classroom avoids them but does not teach the students necessary skills that will help keep them on task as adults in the workplace.
III. The classroom itself and teaching methods need to be restructured. Not just to take advantage to the new tools and opportunities they offer, but because of the new
model' of students we are receiving in the class. Before the 1st day of school our students have been conditioned and preprogrammed to deal with technology that is rapidly changing. We have to accept that we are using a different type of raw material now and the machinery needs to be remodeled to not only deal with that, but to create the new product that is needed also. (Oops Machine Age reference)

Even among the group that discusses this (which is small compared to the group of all educators)there really is not a real specific set of tasks that must be done. That is what all the discussion is about. But I don't think the specific set can truly be reached. There is too much change that is happening too fast. By the time you narrow it down to a specific set, everything will have changed too much to fit that set. Maybe that's part of the problem, most educators were raised when the industrial age model worked, that's the way we were trained to think, just like my Machine Age reference before. In order to deal with the needs of the new students coming in we have to think in Information Age ways not Industrial ways, I'm not sure a true fix will occur unless the teachers are retaught in a major way. Right now we are in transition and maybe the true change will have to be produced by the next generation trying to fix the system which was unable to adapt quick enough in their thinking no matter how hard they tried. I find this thought to be depressing and terrifying both. Depressing because if I cannot change I will fail, terrifying in that an entire generation will be lost before true adaptive change may occur. I can foresee nothing good happening with that.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Time Flies -- Hodgepodge Thoughts

Until I looked at the date on my last post I hadn't realized how long it has been. Time flies when you are doing all that testing. Not that the kids were tested in my class, but they were tested some days in my room, resulting in my having to take my class elsewhere. But Lisa (testing coordinator)really tries hard to make sure I don't move unless she absolutely need the room. I normally act all grumpy, but she does excellent job of rescheduling around my classes. Thanks, Lisa!!
Baseball season started up, especially Double-A here in Wichita, which means the Wranglers are off and running. It hovered between 33 and 40 degrees all weekend and it was COLD. I prepared for it but its a bummer when you buy a hot hot dog and its cold before you get to your seat. I still had ice left at the end of the game so I guess its a mixed blessing. I have front row seats behind home plate and just to the left so I can see all the corners of the plate between the batter and the catcher. Perfect! The Wranglers normally look very rough at the start but this year they look more like they have in May not in April. I take this as a great sign of things to come. They aren't as polished as June but hey not even the Majors are this time of year.
The kids' comments on my class blogs are starting to show improvement in some of their writing. About half of them are writing more and the quality is getting better. The last 8th grade blog comments actually stunned me when I saw who was writing the best comments. Way to go guys!!