Month: March 2008

Total 32 Posts

It’s 3AM In The Edublogosphere

It’s been on the ‘tubes for a few months but I only just caught A Vision of K-12 Students Today, written and directed by BJ Nesbitt, via Stephen Downes who’s also coming at it late.

It’s risible (which probably explains why it’s only now crossing my desk) but in too many valuable ways to ignore it outright.

Specifically, if you commissioned a satire of the lamest elements of the edublogosphere – the sensational handwringing, the naked pleas to “please think of the children” (as if pottery teachers who don’t assign their students to podcasts equivalently don’t care about them) – you couldn’t do better than Nesbitt.

Tellingly, of the three State of the Educational Union addresses burning up the Internet today – Nesbitt’s, Mike Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today, and the Fisch/McLeod joint, Did You Know 2.0 – Nesbitt deploys the fewest statistics and invokes the loudest appeal to emotion.

Right here, I can’t avoid the comparison to Hillary Clinton’s equally risible Children campaign ad.

They both paint from the same palette of moral black and white. They both exploit children to promote an adult’s agenda. They both seek progress (hopelessly) through posture and intimidation. They both explain, respectively, why I won’t elect Hillary Clinton and why I find it difficult to engage the School 2.0 sectarians, however pure of intent they may be.

Knocking Them Down At ASCD

Dina Strasser and Patrick Higgins both rock recaps of sessions at the ASCD… which stands for “Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development,” a title which hits just about every one of my sweet spots. annual conference.

Dina took requests and reviewed a session called Decriminalizing Homework, during which Dr. Cathy Vatterott launched cherry bombs into the crowd (quoted from Dina):

  1. Eliminate grading homework.
  2. Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework.
  3. A building which has a range of homework weights from 10 percent to 89 percent of a subject grade is “just stupid,” Vatterott stated flatly.

Meanwhile, Patrick, whose unease in his position as technical overlord at his school has inspired some precious reflection recentlyDay 72: No eats lunch with me anymore., attended Brain-Friendly Presentation Skills. I’m prepping my first speaking engagement since August, on entirely new material, and Patrick’s notes were useful:

One of the most powerful things she did was move us. Not the kind where we were emotionally moved, but rather we physically moved around the room. In the 90+ minutes we were there, we moved over 15 times. We conversed, we shared information and discussed the topics in the handout on our own terms, but in ways that she dictated.

The presenter swerves across a fine line and then back again, though, when she implores her audience to “simply walk around the room and touch something blue,” strategies for “engagement” only one degree removed from dosing out amphetamines to dozing attendees.

Pay close attention to the suggestions involving collaborative reflection. Ignore anything that looks like the presenter’s buying her audience’s engagement on the cheap. That’s what engaging content is for.

How Assessment Oughtta Be

Off his students’ distraction, TMAO pulls his unit assessments back in, tells his students not to worry, they’ll do it some other day when they’re better prepared for the challenge, except, one by one, they ask him for another shot.

Now nearly every hand is in the air, delivering the line with increasing rigor and strength, taking their tests and working now for real. One kid chokes on the words; another giggles. They do not receive a test. These are serious words spoken by serious people, people who want to do serious work, I say. Another student tries to wait me out. I ignore her and her short-lived rebellion, and eventually the hand hits the air: “I am ready to step up.”

Ascendéte, Jaguar.

I swear if I saw the same scene in a movie I’d double over laughing. This guy is the real deal, though.

Who Does Florida Think It Is?

a/k/a Linear Fun #3: Driving Across America

Plot total drivers vs. total population (using this table) for every state in the US and you get this graph:

Okay, that dot that’s below the line? That’s New York. That one’s easy. Fewer licensed drivers than you’d expect for the population ’cause only cabbies drive there or something.

But that dot that’s above the line? That’s Florida, and me and my classes will be damned if we can figure out why they’ve got more than their fair share of drivers.

Anybody got anything for us on that?

Bill Throws It Down

Bill Fitzgerald on aggregating lesson content:

If a critical mass of teachers (lets say, for the sake of pulling an arbitrary number, 40) start creating lesson plans on a sufficiently regular basis, I’ll commit to setting up and hosting a site that collects and republishes the content. Heck, I’ll even commit to writing up some best practices to make sure your lessons can be peeled off and aggregated separately from your other content.

And, at the risk of stating the obvious, this site will be ad-free, and yes, it will run on open source code.

Thirty-nine more hands. Get ’em in the air, people.