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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Free iPhones and iPod Touches to Freshmen

Texas university giving freshmen iPhones and iPod touches

Alright ACU. I like it. Anytime, anywhere information, classrooms, and learning. Even if students have to pay the $20/month data package, it is worth it.

Depending on SDK programs, the phone will have numerous applications for college students. What I think would be great is for the students to create the SDK apps they need, and perhaps that others might need, as course requirements.

Live blog classes? Twitter-feed classes? Hhhmmm.

Mobile computing is not coming soon. It is here. How many years will it take k-12 schools to accept it? I say at least 6 more years...2014. Until this time, teachers will need to be subversive to use the technology of the students.

What do you think, Liz? How about everyone else? Good idea or problematic.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Practice started today

Track & Field season has officially started for our school. We have four coaches, and 120 athletes. I'm sure numbers will decrease as this week progresses; very hard days the rest of the week.

I worked with about 50 sprinters today. As we did some short sprint drills, I paused to give them a quick break, and to talk to them, and I was reminded why I enjoy coaching. I made a very simple comment that went something like this:

Okay, we're getting to the point where differences are made. We've run about ten 30-meter sprints. Some of you are tired. If you're not sweating, you're not working hard enough. But now is the time you make yourself better. You have to reach a point of being tired before you can improve your speed. Now is the time to dig down inside of yourself and see how much you want to be the best you can become. I can want you to be better. I can provide the exercises to get you better, but I can't make you better. That part is up to you.

It's a pretty standard speech we coaches develop over the years. But then something happened that I have missed for the past year and a half. All eyes were on me, they were attentive, and then one of the guys said, "Yeah, let's go. We can do this." Then a 7th grade girl responded, "I'm ready! C'mon everybody! Let's get better."

Fifteen minutes later (and about five minutes past the scheduled stopping time), with parents watching and waiting, their kids basically said, "We're not ready to go yet. We have things to do." The parents were very patient, although I do not like to go over time very often. But the kids were not ready to go. So we went for 5-10 more minutes.

Why is that kids, at all levels of ability, will give a coach this kind of commitment, yet many of these same kids do not have the same desire in the classroom? I think I'll ask them, because I really want to know. Speculation isn't good enough here.


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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Not Who I Thought It Was

"I don't necessarily agree with everything I say." - Marshall McLuhan

I thought this was a Mark Twain quote.  I have used it as a personal motivator to not think I had things figured out, or more accurately to not become complacent.  It is my "excuse quote" when I change my mind.

If readers haven't figure this out about me, I enjoy playing the devil's advocate on issues; especially when others believe they have arrived at a conclusion.  To me learning never has a conclusion.  It's not so much about "life-long learning" as it is that most people I know, and know of, draw conclusions before all the data is in.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't give an opinion along the way, just be sure there wiggle room remaining when new information arrives.

Funny though...as I get older, I don't do this as much as I used to.  I think it is because I'm not in the classroom.  Kids loved the approach when I would debate against the class.  I would take the "unpopular" side of an issue and let them try to convince me they were right.  Okay, truth is...I loved it too. 


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Friday, February 22, 2008

International Edublogger Directory

What a great idea...an International Edublogger Directory. Thanks Patricia Donaghy for starting this. If you haven't added yourself, do it now.

Since I'm on "vacation" this week (still had to grade finals for my UoP classes) I invested some time looking through the directory. Many current friends have already added their profile to the directory. A new someone from whom I want to learn more is Liz Kolb. Liz is a doctoral candidate (I think) and an adjunct professor at Madonna University. That's okay :-) ...but what is really valuable about Liz's site is that she is providing valuable information about the use of cell phones in learning. Her blog is From Toy to Tools: Cell Phones in Learning. Very good insights. Take a look if you don't know her.

I like her work because of the filtering issues and excuses we all face in the current paradigm of school-provided-censored networks. Cell phones will likely be a bigger hurdle to overcome than filtering, but I think the possibilities of anywhere learning will make the cell phone/pocket computer (iPhone, iPod Touch, etc.) are the future I want to see and encourage in my next classroom. [Please be next year] BTW, a high school iI know confiscates cell phones when they see a student with one, and then charges them $10 to get it back. [No, I'm not making this up]

Now for the other things I have noticed in the first 140 members in the directory. Some stats:
  • 62 people are from the USA (1 student - go Arthus).
  • 19 of the 62 are still in the classroom (at some level)
  • 78 are people from outside the USA.
  • 30 of the 78 are still in the classroom (at some level)
  • 49 of the 140 are classroom teachers at some level.
I'm not sure what this means, but here are some thoughts and questions:
  • Just because someone is out of the classroom does not mean they do not teach. But it is more of a para-school setting than a classroom. I admire this and question it at the same time.
  • I did not count Media Specialists (of which I am one) because the setting is different in the eyes of the students. A LMS is a break from the teacher in the eyes of the students I know (what about you Arthus, what are your thoughts?).
  • 35% of the edubloggers in the directory are able to give first-hand practical information on the interactions with students.
  • 65% of the edubloggers I would consider to be theorists or dreamers (both of which are important).
So, some questions:
  • Is the process of blogging too much for the classroom teacher to handle on a consistent basis?
  • Are those of us who blog the ones with time, or are we the ones with ideas?
  • Nearly all of the first 140 used to be classroom teachers, but have moved to something different. Why? Was it a better pay scale, a way out of the classroom, an opportunity to be a teacher of teachers, or what?
  • How can we bridge the the theory edubloggers bring to the practice of the teacher in the classroom most effectively, so students benefit from the opportunities technology brings?
I'm sure I'll have more questions. What are some of yours?

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Standardizing Lowers Thinking Requirements

"I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."
-- Socrates

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think."
-- Anne Sullivan

When I taught Social Studies, I started each class period with a motivational quote and "This Day In History" brief. I had a former student (from 9 years ago) tell me he still has his Daily Starter Notebook with each quote and history quip.

I like quotes. I like to exegete and interpret them. So I came across the two quotes above a few days ago, and began to work on understanding these out of context thoughts.

At first glance these sentiments appear to contradict each other. But upon closer inspection, they really say the say thing. Socrates is not claiming that he taught his students to think, but that by his method he encouraged the innate curiosity of the brain to work. Sullivan, the miracle worker, said the same thing; the brain seeks to understand, we don't have to artificially make that happen.

As we have made education a Henry Ford type of assembly line, it should not come as a surprise to us that the thinking requirements have decreased. However, it amazes me that so many people do not see this as a result of standardized education. To be standard means to be alike, the same. Some try to preach "high standards" but that is doublespeak. High standards compared to what? I still claim that the "normal" classes I took in school required more thinking than today's "advanced" classes.

Common sense tells us that not every child will reach the highest level of thinking at the same time (if ever). Mental disabilities will hinder the standardization of the brain among children. But Sullivan knew that Helen's brain was looking for stimulation and could already "think."

Can we admit that our country does not value the individual student? We can't. The system, under the current paradigm, will not allow it. We are forced to dumb-down the curriculum to meet standardized measurements. Once we determine an acceptable, standard level of the masses, one of two things will happen: a) we will find that our standards were too low, and raise them slightly (which will become someone's political platform) or b) we will find that the standards were too high, and restructure tests to provide an acceptable level (to save someone's political platform). Seriously, it will be easier for the government to change tests than to improve student accuracy.

My opinion is that option B will win out. I also think it will win out within the next four years, just before the 2012 elections. You heard it here first. :-) Statistics will tell any story one wants to tell.

Testing
What's easier?
Raise levels of thinking;
Make questions easy to answer?
Subtle



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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Which Do You Think Is Occuring?

"Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain." - John F. Kennedy

This was one of the Quotes of the Day today.

Larry Ferlazzo mentioned Scott McLeod's 6-word motto contest today. As Larry said...

There were a number entries, including some that were really quite
funny (and insightful). However, it was disconcerting to see that, with
just a few exceptions, most were pretty negative.


So, I ask, where do you think we are?

Liberty without learning or Learning without liberty...

Or perhaps I could ask...Are we in peril or is our learning in vain?

Or, was Kennedy wrong?

If I was grading, I would include - Explain the reasoning for your answer. ;-)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's All About the Ratings

This week No. 1 ranked Memphis will play No. 2 ranked Tennessee.

Memphis is undefeated, with a record of 25-0.
Tennessee has a record of 23-2.

Last week Memphis was No. 1, and as the only unbeaten team, they deserve that ranking.  After all, this isn't the greatly flawed BCS.  :-)

However, Tennessee was ranked No. 4 last week.  They won 2 games since the last poll.  Here's what Week 14 looked like in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Polls
  1. Memphis (23-0)
  2. Duke (21-1)
  3. Kansas (23-1)
  4. Tennessee (21-2)
  5. North Carolina (22-2)
This week (Week 15) the polls changed:
  1. Memphis (25-0) - won two games
  2. Tennessee (23-2) - won two games
  3. North Carolina (24-2) - won two games
  4. Kansas (24-2) - 1-1 last week
  5. Duke (22-2) - 1-1 last week
Okay, okay...Tennessee won two games and the two teams in front of them (Duke & Kansas) each lost a game.  But North Carolina (who I detest nearly as much as I do Duke) also won two games in what everyone says is the "Toughest Conference in America...Baaaabbbyyy."  NC beat University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.  Tennessee beat Arkansas and Georgia. 

My opinion, NC had a little tougher time, and they have one more win than Tennessee.  Why isn't the media darling of Roy Williams' boys ranked No. 2?  Because Tennessee plays Memphis this week.  Tickets must be sold.   A number one vs. a number two is a big seller...kind of a championship game before the tournament.  So enjoy the game residents of the state of Tennessee, because come the real tournament, neither team will be in the Final Four.  They just aren't that good.  Memphis might get to the Elite Eight, Tennessee will be out in the round of 16.

Just having fun folks.  It's that time of year for us basketball junkies.  Go Big Ten!



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Monday, February 18, 2008

Never Speak of Politics or Religion-But It's President's Day

Sorry. This is long. It is important to me. It is not overtly political, but politics is the backdrop for my thoughts. I am totally sincere; hoping against hope that I am totally wrong.

Today, I spent 2+ hours on the road. I listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival's greatest hits. I began thinking about politics in my life since I could vote. My first election was 1980 (Carter v. Reagan). I realized that I am a product of a two-family dynasty in our country. Since 1981, a Bush or Clinton has been in one of the top two positions in our country.

1981-1989 George Bush (Vice President)
1989-1993 George Bush (President)
1993-2001 Bill Clinton (President)
2001-2009 George W. Bush (President)

I find it interesting that our country has created this monopoly on the White House. It is as if we want a royal family after all. It appears easier to have a dynasty than to have idealogical changes. We are happier with the familiar, aren't we?

With that said, I'm ready for a change. To be consistent with my personal wishes, I do not think change will come if another from the Bush or Clinton family takes the reigns of the White House.

In my heart-of-hearts, I think McCain and Obama will be the two who lead the ticket. I don't care what your political affiliation is (because there really is no difference between the two anymore), in my mind, there is no way anyone should not respect McCain. He spent over five years (1967-1973) in a prison camp during a war in which the soldiers who returned home were not treated well. He had all reasons to hate his country, but instead of giving up on it, he sought to make a difference by choosing politics in 1982 after serving in the Navy from 1958-1981. You and I may not agree with his politics, but I cannot fathom anyone who could not respect him for his life. I respect him enough to wish he wouldn't run for president.

I fear something terrible if Obama (or Clinton) wins the election. We live in a country where people become famous for stupidity. With the advent of web 2.0 technologies, "reality" TV, and instant news, there will be many someones who will believe they will become historically (in)famous if they assassinate the first black president or first female president. There have been four successful assassinations and numerous unsuccessful attempts. Most of these were over a political/philosophical differences (or Jodie Foster ;-) - sorry, I needed a humor break).

Call it a lack of faith in our society, but to kill the first minority president is a sure ticket to all-time annals of U.S. history. And, yes, I do believe there are plenty of crazy-enough and skilled-enough people to attempt it, and succeed. For that reason, I wish Obama and Clinton wouldn't run for president.

So, I'm conflicted. Kids at school ask me all the time who I am going to vote for. I tell them I don't know, since the candidates have not been decided. The truth is, I don't know. There is much more to this election than Democrat vs. Republican.

Our country, once galvanized by 9/11/01, is now fragmented down party lines again. How soon we forget. Web 2.0 has not only made communication and connection "flatter," it has made historical revisionism quicker.

I think if McCain wins we will continue in a war with no end, as was promised by President Bush in 2001.

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen...

Our nation has been put on notice: We are not immune from attack.

If Obama or Clinton wins, we may have another verse to Abraham, Martin, and John.

We live in terrible times. Why would anyone want to be president? I guess because someone has to be.

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Quote of the Day - Al Franken

"When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both."

Full Disclosure: In the 1980 election, when Al Franken was on Saturday Night Live, I had an "AL FRANKEN FOR PRESIDENT" shirt that about a dozen of us wore as a result of Al stating on SNL that we should vote for him. Flash forward 20+ years, I think he is an idiot who should stick with comedy and stay away from politics. It's not because he's a democrat, it's because he refuses to accept any opinion other than his own. He's played out.

Now on to the quote: This is the Al Franken I enjoy. His quote is funny, clever, and spiced with a bit of valuable truth.

Oh, it fits education perfectly too. It is almost always the case in educational theories that we take statistics to prove whatever predisposition we choose to support. The only reason I want to hear what the latest research indicates is to identify how education "professionals" will use stats to prove their points rather than form their opinions based on the stats.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finally, Someone Backs Up What I Knew To Be True

Dr. Scott McLeod is one of my favorite ed. bloggers. Today, he says he's not a conspiracy theorist, then outstandingly supports the long-standing government conspiracy against public schools by providing several details and references.

UPDATE & CORRECTION - Mike Parent wrote the post I refer to here. I wondered why Scott said he was in New Jersey, but then again, this is the time of year for movements to be made. Next time I'll read the byline at the bottom of the Guest Blog. Sorry Mike. Thanks for the comment too.


You gotta love this quote:

"...We shall not try to make these people [the lower and middle classes] or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for the embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children... and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way." Rockefeller's General Education Board, Occasional Letter Number One, 1906.

I am a conspiracy kind of guy. Not about the "obvious" things that motivate the masses (Kennedy, Roswell) but the things that are done in the open. The best thieves do not work under the cover of darkness, they work in the daylight so as to convince their observers they are not criminal.

Adult readers, think of your interaction with schools. It is never the teacher who shows up at the opening bell and leaves at the closing bell who finds themselves in hot water in the school. Is it? Sure they may be criticized, but do they really face serious consequences?

In my observation, it is the teacher who gets there early, who seeks to make a true difference in the lives of their students, who stays late to work with students either academically or athletically or in other areas of extra-curricular activities. They put their lives into the lives of kids. They RISK being called out for patting that kid on the back (figuratively and literally).

Why? Have you ever truly wondered?

I think it is because these teachers are likely to rock the boat by getting their students to think for themselves. That is the last thing elitists want...students who think for themselves. Critical thinking is what many educational leaders say they want, but then force teachers to use curriculum that does not encourage, and actually discourages, critical thinking. Again, I will mention that one of the biggest pushes in the early part of the 21st century is Understanding by Design, which is only step 2 of 6 in Bloom's Taxonomy of levels of thinking.

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Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

Pete Reilly posted about Teacher Dropouts a few days ago.  Please take 3 minutes to read his entire post, but I'll hit a couple highlights that stood out to me:
  1. Former teachers claim better benefits and job security in teaching. 
  2. Former teachers claim  greater autonomy, intellectual challenge, and prestige in other careers.
Why did these items stand out?  I am led to believe or confirm...
  1. Teachers prefer stability and security over risk and opportunity.  Based on Myers-Briggs and other Personality Profile identifiers, it may be true that teachers are more likely to be averse to risk, in preference for status quo.
  2. Pete finishes with a question: " Will integrating technology into this environment make a real difference or do we need to transform the environment?"  My response is that if my assumption is correct, that teachers who stay have a tendency toward the status quo, then technology integration will do nothing to transform the environment.  We will have to wait until the next generation of teachers appears, who have used technology as a way of life - their status quo, so to speak - and the environment changes.  But then it will still be behind where the future will be.
Back to the 6-word motto -- Bold Leadership For A Brighter Yesterday.

Now for my questions:
  • What are former teachers doing now? 
  • For what careers did teaching prepare them?
  • Do former teachers like and/or enjoy their current position?
My favorite part was the quote by Laird, DeBell, and Chapman:

“..in comparison to the high school student dropout rate, the teacher turnover rate over an equivalent four-year period is greater than the student population dropout rate.” Laird, DeBell, and Chapman (2006)

In my mind, this is one of the greatest paradoxical ironies in the history of our country.

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Robert Newton Peck Visit

About Peck

I was a little busy this week.  We hosted Robert Newton Peck, author of A Day No Pigs Would Die, and 65 other books.  He spoke to our 8th graders on Wednesday, then at the high school on Thursday.  I recorded both assemblies.  Wednesday evening several of us had dinner with him and his wife, Sam. 

Between final arrangements, being a host, video, and "normal" activities, it has been busy.

Some things I learned:
  1. Rob (he told me to call him this) turns 80 years old today - February 17).  He still plays tennis, recites his first poem from when he was nine years old, and recalls much of his writings verbatim.  I'm 45, so I potentially have a lot of time left to do some things...I'm not so old that I need to think my body is wearing out.  I need to get off my ---- ummm, couch and move.
  2. His new book, HOW To Write Fiction Like A Pro, will make anyone believe they can write. 
  3. Never write about ideas, feelings, or emotions.  Write about things, people, and stuff.  You don't read a good book -- you see it.  Could the same hold true with blogs?
  4. He and I were often the only males in a crowd of women.  Rob's favorite teacher was Mrs. Kelly, who taught him in 1st-6th grade.  But he alluded to educational progress being hampered because there are either too few males or too many females.  The balance is off, and the kids may be missing important role models from both male and female.  [Before anyone says, "What a sexist comment, man, etc." his point was simply that kids need both in good measure.  His father died when Rob was 13, and he speaks from deep experience.]
  5. Mr. Rogers (yes, Fred Rogers) was Rob's best man at his wedding.  The attended college together.  When we were talking with our middle school students, they did not know who Mr. Rogers was.  Today's middle school students were born in 1994-1997.  Although there are reruns on some PBS channels, most students don't watch PBS for any reason.  How does that make you feel?
My favorite part of the week was on Thursday afternoon, just before we left the high school.  He kissed the ladies on the cheek and thanked them for inviting him to come to Dalton.  Then he reached out to shake my hand, pulled me in close, hugged me, and said, "You know, I count you among my friends now.  You better keep in touch."  I think I will.  I think I will.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Product vs. Process


Sylvia does it again. Schools/teachers like wikis and podcasts because...

But as I thought more about it, I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it reflects a larger issue of assessment and comfort with the status quo. In most schools, curriculum focuses on student rather than process.

Wikis can be graded like term papers. Podcasts can be "rubricked" like a speech. Blogs, well blogs are not neat and easy. Teachers have been conditioned to standardize (bastardize?) education. Blogs represent growth, and growth is a process.

I offer this consideration. In class sits a child who has never had to work hard to complete her classwork at an accuracy level of 95%. She's smart. Nothing wrong with this.

In the same school a student with autism sits. He has never spoken, never truly communicated to any of the people in his life. One day, after the love and perseverance of a teacher, this boy picks up a marker and begins to scribble. On occasion a letter-like symbol emerges. The teacher continues to read to him a book with simple words. As days and months pass, the boy picks up a marker and draws on the board. Two letters emerge. H...i... Hi. His first word that, without a doubt, he communicated. He was 11 years old when it happened. The teacher took her student to rooms throughout the school. After the teacher said, "What would you like to say?," the student walked with purpose to the board and wrote H...i...

He did it in nearly 20 classrooms.

Spring rolls around. The girl takes her state-wide-color-the-bubble test. She scores in the 90+ percentile as she has ever other year. She did not need the time permitted to complete any of the sections. Her teachers did not have to spend any extra time helping her prepare for the test. The student says school is easy, and that she is usually bored. It's hard to disagree with her.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION! - Which student learned more in that year of education?

How can you prove your answer? There is no way to prove which student LEARNED more.

------
Wikis, though a great tool for collaboration are, as Sylvia says, "A different way to do the same thing."
Podcasts, though we have not really found the power of them yet, is being used to do old things in a new way.
Blogs, well, they demonstrate the long-term growth of ideas from seed to flower. They can become an old things in a new form if a teacher uses them as a note-taking tool.

But like the two students, the Essential Question - Which tool will lead the student to learn more from prolonged use? I have blogged many different ways since 2001. I have done podcasts in many different forms since 2005. I have used five different wikis with students and other teachers.

For me, my learning occurred in my blogs. I can't measure it, but I know it to be true. Even Twitter, my microblog of choice, has allowed me to learn more than wikis and podcasts.

I'm still thinking this through, because I know in my heart-of-hearts that podcasts have a greater power than how most educators are using them. I need a classroom to experiment...does anyone have a standard I can make fit into my experiment? :-)

Learning
Already know it

Versus something brand new.

Measure the growth not the outcome
.
Improve



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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is It Really Me?

Life on the Track

In the past two weeks, I have had several people ask me if the icon I use for my web presence is really me. Yes it is. In late April 2005, I was sitting in the infield of our Regional Track Meet, while my wife took this picture from the stands on the other side. I was a backup timer for the running events, and had a great seat.

My younger son (a Sophomore in high school), who at the time was working for a local T-Shirt printer, took the photo and used it to practice color separation in Photoshop. He made it and said I should use it for something. So I have used it for the past three years.

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Google Docs Forms

I'm coaching track again this year. Took a break last year for a few reasons...new position, wanted to go back to middle school level, blah, blah, blah.

We are hosting an Invitational this year. It's a first for us. We are hoping to get 8-12 schools (boys and girls). That means when we organize the meet, it will be more like 16-24 teams. Not a big deal, since I organized an annual meet for the high school for 6 years that had between 25-30 schools (girls and boys). The largest meet I recall had over 625 competitors. That is huge. We used Meet Manager software, and it is a great program.

This year, for our middle school invitational, I have created a Form in Google Docs Spreadsheet (GDS). I will be emailing the coaches next week to notify them that they will complete the form - 13 events, 2 athletes per event. When they finish the form, which is embedded in the email (how cool is that!) My GDS is automatically updated.

No more trying to decipher the handwriting of coaches in a hurry. I can export the GDS to an Excel format. Since we purchased the software for the school site, I can use the Meet Manager software to import the entries from Excel. That should save me about 15 hours of data entry.

I have always believed that the only good technology is the kind that makes life for humans better or easier. GDS does this. It is good technology.

Spreadsheet
Input info
Get others to help you
Accurate, quicker, and smarter
Data

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Just Wondering



The New Bloom's Taxonomy - Starts from bottom - Lower-Level Thinking to Higher-Level Thinking Skills

Then there is Understanding by Design.

Two thoughts:
  1. Is understanding as high as McTighe & Grant expect? Probably not.
  2. Why can't we use terminology that is consistent?
I think, in my cynical mind, that we eschew consistency so we sell products/services to school systems. Otherwise, Understanding By Design is not aiming very high for our students.

Knowledge
Understanding
Is that all we expect?
Critical thinking not needed?
Basic

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More $ For IT or Let Students Use Their Phones

Pete Reilly discusses a recent E-School News survey.

Nearly three out of four school leaders say they don’t have enough IT
staff to support their needs effectively, according to the survey.
Fifty-five percent of respondents said they can’t maintain their
network adequately, 63 percent said they can’t plan for new
technologies, and 76 percent said they have trouble implementing new
technologies.

Pete's continuing thoughts are correct, when operating on the assumption that we truly need school provided computers. 

I am becoming more and more convinced that the way schools might consider spending some of their tech dollars on providing students with free web/data access through the cell phone providers in the community.  It seems to me that a mobile provider could allow unlimited access to all students from the hours of 7:00 to 5:00 (or longer?).

Some benefits:
  • Cell phone venders and mobile providers would be the IT department.  Phone breaks, they replace or repair.
  • Families are providing phones to their kids at younger ages, and the phones many of them have are more powerful than the computers we provide in schools.
  • No need for filters!  Mobile providers could include visited web sites for the parents.  Then the responsibility falls more on the student and parent when it comes to viewing inappropriate material.
  • School finances could be spent on training teachers how to teach with phones.
  • Students would have the advantage of thumb-typing over the teachers, so students would have confidence in the tools.
I use an iPhone.  It is my first phone with web access.  It is $20 a month for unlimited data.  If teachers/admins/schools are afraid students would use the phone in bad ways, then get the iPod Touch, with no phone access.  Google Docs, Zoho, and other online office suites will allow students the software.  To me it makes too much sense not to do.  But how much trouble would a teacher be in if the made a cell phone a requirement for their class, in place of a notebook, colored pencils, and backpack?

Cell Phone
Everywhere web
Use it to learn, I do
"We don't need no stinkin' 'puters"
Mobile

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

6-Word Motto

Scott McLeod seeks a 6-word motto for the nation's schools.  He based it on the Freakonmics blog 6-word motto contest for the US of A.

As I scrolled through the comments at Freakonomics, #54 is my favorite for both contests.

Bold Leadership for a Brighter Yesterday

I laugh because it is funny.  I cry because it is true.  I want a T-Shirt!

Motto
Only six words
We want Bold Leadership
For a Brighter Yesterday...hah!
Catchphrase?

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