Thursday, October 11, 2007
I've lost the link now, but I remember reading an article about a teacher who had to stop blogging because an adminstrator disapproved. As long as we have that kind of attitude in the school system, we're not going to have any change, that's for sure.
(I love the martial art belt system, and I think schools should give out belts in geometry and social studies instead of grades. Not least because in order to get a higher belt, a certain amount of instruction to lower belts is required, which would be a great thing to transfer to a classroom setting.)
Friday, September 14, 2007
We need to teach our kids to do that, of course; especially as they take steps towards becoming academics themselves and either creating their own original research, or gaining the ability to evaluate those precious peer-reviewed studies for themselves, to see if the data really says what their authors say it says.
But that's not quite the skill that is really required online. What you need is the ability to evaluate the sources themselves for the likelihood that what they say is likely to be factual. I mean, who should we believe:
D00D WINDOZE SUX LINUX RULES ONLY LAMERZ USE WINDOZE!!!!1!!
Proponents and analysts attribute the relative success of Linux to its security, reliability, low cost, and freedom from vendor lock-in.
The second quote is from Wikipedia. There's a big online debate about whether Wikipedia is a reliable source or whether it is subject to the phenomenon of wikiality, but that's beside the point. The point is, who do we trust? The 733t hax0r who wrote the first statement, or the carefully thought out and constructed sentence in the second? Credibility drips from it. It doesn't mean it's true; it just means that it is significantly more worthy of attention. And, once you find that a source like Wikipedia, or Larry Osterman, or CNN, has statements that are worthy of attention, you can make a reasonable assumption - subject to verification - that they are making other statements that are also worthy of attention. This is how a source builds credibility, and how a reader evaluates it. This is what we need to teach our children.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Image from Cirne
Cool Cat Teacher is installing a backchannel in her classroom. I love this. They don't even do this at most of the conferences I go to. But it is an amazing tool for people who are more comfortable with writing than speaking, and an amazing tool for referring back to after the class, or session, or seminar is finished. I'm not quite clear on whether this teacher is a private school teacher or not; if so, her ability to set something like this up is not as surprising. Still, if I understand it correctly, she's using a projector somewhere in the room to display the backchannel, and the implementation is done using just a private chat room on a public chat room server. What would it take to do this in a public school? The same as this teacher: a projector, a wall, and access to a chat server. And, the ability for the students to add chats from their desks. It gets a bit tricky right about there. Maybe at a New Technology High School they can do this, or maybe in a few years they'll get together one of those deals where every student has a laptop. Maybe. But there is one room at my son's school where they could do this: the brand new computer lab, and the room has a projector. I wonder what sorts of classes they teach in there?
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I want to get the school some books. As part of the construction this year, there is a new library room, and presumably there'll be space for a lot of new books.
But does this fundraising plan raise as many questions in your mind as it does in mine?
- What percentage of the money actually goes to library books?
- How much is Paragon's cut?
- Is every school doing this at the same time? How many kids are doing these fundraisers?
- How much is in the library fund now? What percentage of the school's overall budget goes to it?
- What books are they going to buy? What books do they have now?
- Can I just donate directly to the library fund? I sure don't want to mess around with this "cold call sales" thing.
- Can I just donate books directly to the library?
Of course, when a big library buys books it gets these extra-strength bindings so the books can be read hundreds of times. But even our very nice city library has some ordinary paperbacks that I'm guessing people have donated to them. What the heck? Lend 'em out a dozen times and toss 'em, or even sell them in a book sale if they're not in too bad shape. No harm, no foul. But even if there's some arcane regulation against doing this, I need to know a lot more about the school finances so I can help out their library and book buying like I want to.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
- think: lab - Christian Long is both an educator and a parent
- Dangerously Irrelevant - Dr. Scott Mcleod is
not currently a teachera college professor rather than a K12 teacher, but he always has interesting articles.
- Do I Dare Disturb The Universe? - Scott Elias is a high school administrator and doctoral student
- dy/dan - Fascinating blog of a really innovative math teacher
- Cool Cat Teacher - Teacher and techie
And others, with various levels of posting frequency and relevance to a kindergartener parent.
My apologies to Kevin Makice, who left a couple of comments here over the summer, which I completely ignored, because blush I forgot to turn on email notification of comments for this blog. It's on now, so no further comments will be ignored! But I suspect we won't be hearing much from the Makices, for if I have correctly followed their eddies in my stream of information, they have decided to pursue alternatives to public schooling. I agree with your comment, Kevin, that parents are encouraged to get involved, but only in prescribed ways. We have been told who our PTO officers are; what the schedule of meetings are; what we can volunteer for; and how we can help out with fundraising. Lots and lots of fundraising. Still, we haven't gone to a PTO meeting yet. We're still getting our feet wet. We'll see what happens.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Is it worth it? I'm very ambivalent. Check out my post here to get some idea of why. But you know, I still thought it would be a good idea to get some sort of a dialog going. Now, I didn't have huge expectations of what the school web site would be like; as a matter of fact it might even have been a little better than I was expecting. So I dropped a note to the webmaster, a librarian at the school, and gave him a couple of suggestions for what I'd like to see: first, user comments on the site, and second, teacher biographies. I still feel like I have no idea of what goes on in this big, mysterious building that I am expected to send my only child to for most of the next seven years of his life.
The webmaster wrote back a very nice letter, but firmly rejected both of my suggestions, giving the typical reasons I've come to expect anytime I ask for a dialog: no time to monitor the comments, teachers might not want that information published, that sort of thing. Certainly I wouldn't want anything published about the teachers that they wouldn't want published, but there's certainly no shortage of teachers out there that have bios, websites, and all sorts of ways to communicate better with parents. Why not ask them? It's not like I'm asking for a webcam in the classroom. Yet.
So, let's start a dialog right here. What do you think about your public school? What are they doing right? How could they do better? How's the communication? Do you really have a good parent-teacher relationship? I want to hear from you.