Archive for August, 2008

Animal School

Today at an inservice about special education, we watched the video called “Animal School”.  Honestly, I think it is true for all students… not just special education kids. It is a powerful video from Raising Small Souls about our kids (both at home and in school). Click the link above and take the time to watch it. It is powerful.

This is why we teach.


Today we had our staff meeting where I presented about the 23 Things learning opportunity (join us if you’d like!). It was awesome to see so many people writing down the web address, even though they knew I would send it out to them later via e-mail.

For some reason my jump drive refused to work at all, so my PowerPoint presentation that I toiled over for this presentation was out of the question. It turned out okay, though. My dear friend played along well and asked some questions (in that fun way so it seemed like we planned it out as part of the presentation). Fantastic.

After the meeting, one teacher came up and talked about how she was very excited because she had been meaning to do more with technology and this is the perfect “next step”. Another teacher was so excited and said, “I just feel like… like I can DO it!” This totally made my day. Even one of the administrative assistants e-mailed to say that it was fantastic… I hope that she tries it as well. I think it has application in everyone’s life.

So, after a long day of hauling boxes, unpacking boxes and trying to find some semblance of order in my room again (we had a  huge construction project this summer), I’m tired. I hope you’re all having a good night and a great day of school tomorrow!


Posted: August 22, 2008 in Learning..., Theory
Tags: , , , ,

I remembered reading this quote sometime in my younger years and finding it interesting… and I ran across it again today.

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

~Socrates (469-399 B.C.)

I think it’s less of “kids will be kids” and more of “adult perspective never changes”… but that’s what I love about the edu-blogosphere… it’s less “those darn kids” and more “what great kids… how can we help them be even greater?”

Just a random thought for today.

Last year we really “dug in” in the upper-level German classes and watched the podcasts of the German news (“Tagesschau” from ARD) on a regular basis. We used various exercises to interact with the news: find key vocabulary, bell-ringer activities with the key vocabulary ahead of time, just watching the show (no audio), only audio, creating our own news interpretation as anchors in front of the video, and more. Watching the news was a multi-purpose activity. It is authentic and holistic learning as students can pick up all kinds of vocabulary and news information (differentiated in its very essence) all while they are learning about German (and world) culture and taking those important steps closer to becoming world citizens. It was a fantastic adventure, and we tried a few different news sources, but ended up sticking most with the Tagesschau.

It was a bright, sunny Thursday (read: hot and sweaty in a classroom with no air conditioning) and I was back from lunch, setting up the final things before the upper-level class and one of my students came up to me, PSP in hand.

“Frau? Were you able to get today’s news? I tried a couple times this morning  and couldn’t get it. I’ve got all of them from the past two weeks and I’ve been watching them <thrusting PSP closer to my face>, but I couldn’t get today’s. Could you?”

(Astounded and caught a little off guard) “Uh, no, actually… I couldn’t either. <smile> Wow. I’m so proud of you! Are you loving it?”

And the conversation went on…

Here’s what you need to  know. This student isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, the A+ student in the class (who you might assume would be the one to do this sort of thing), so this was really eye-opening (and exciting) for me.

It made me realize that the more opportunity you give kids to experience and work with (and find) web tools for learning, the more learning they will do on their own. My job, as a facilitator of learning, is to help equip them with the tools for lifelong learning… and for these students (digital natives or not), the tools that they often (not just want, but) need are embedded in technology (21st century workplace, here we come).

So what tools have you helped your students find and learn (perhaps unwittingly, like me) so they can be life-long learners?

It’s kind of inspiring to watch how Moodle can change a school. I’ll let you check it out for yourself.

Human: How Moodle can Change a School

From Think Progress in “Colbert, Stewart viewers more well-informed than those watching O’Reilly,  Dobbs“:

 A new Pew Survey on News Consumption released yesterday reveals that viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are more knowledgeable about current events than those who watch Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Larry King, and the “average consumers of NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, C-SPAN and daily newspapers.” Thirty percent of Daily Show and 34 percent of Colbert viewers correctly identified Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives, compared to the national average of just 18 percent.

What I’m seeing here is that the people who enjoy (heavy emphasis on the enjoy)  watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert actually retain more information than those who watch Bill O’Reilly, or just any random news show. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are (mostly) humorous and definitely engaging entertainment. We already know that stimulating emotion helps people remember, and that positive emotions are most closely tied with retention. So is the fact that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report viewers retain more information surprising to anyone? 

So let’s look at the application: How do you take advantage of this in your classroom?

He who knows men is clever. He who knows himself is wise.

To Thine Own Self Be True.

Throughout many of the major religions of the world (and time), it has been clear that one of the biggest journeys we go on is the journey into truly knowing ourselves. I might (shudder) dare to say that it could even be a universal truth.

It seems that dy/dan is finding some truth about himself: finding what works for him in the form of classroom management. He discusses many fantastic ideas such as being the “teflon teacher” so kids can’t pin you down (long enough for you to show them “that you c*re”).

My concern is that Dan is masquerading what works for him as some sort of universal truth. I have no doubt that he is a fantastic teacher and that his students are lucky to have him… and that he has found a great way to relate and conect with kids. But simply calling it “The teacher your students want” doesn’tmake it a “just add water” formula.

What works for him would probably be silly if I were to try it.  Bill Fitzgerald commented on Dan’s post with something very wise: Never pretend to be something that you’re not. This is sage advice for the readers out there who might feel ashamed because they’re just not like Dan, or, worse yet, might throw away what they already do (that works) to try to be someone they’re not.

It’s what we would hope for our students, to be uniquely unique and change the world with their uniqueness… so why should teachers fit a cookie-cutter idea of “The Ideal Teacher Profile”?

So, who am I? That’s probably Teflon: hard to pin down. I might tend a little more toward the “soft edges and kittens” than the “cruel teacher”… but, ultimately, I want my students to know that they are worthy of my time and consideration… in the same way that I am. So we have fun, laugh a lot… and get a lot of learning done. The most important part, though, like Dan says, is to show them how much I care.

Honestly? I’m still pinning myself down. Who I am, who I want to be… I think it’s probably a long journey ahead.