Making an impact

On Oct. 30 I wrote about a presentation I gave to our High School student body on Oct. 29th. To date it was one of the hardest presentations I’ve had to give. Talking to students about their spaces, about their future, and trying to make an impact that lasted well after the 45 minute presentation. I wore jeans, a loose shirt, and wanted them to view me as a friend, not another adult telling them to “Get off of facebook”. Today, I visited two of the facebook.com groups that our students here started and that I used in the presentation. As you may or may not know groups in facebook are public. Meaning anyone with a facebook account can search, view, and join other public groups. For the presentation I took pictures from different groups I found and used them to show that you can’t control information once it’s on the web. That anyone has access to things you post, groups you belong to, and the people you call your friends. I told the students during the presentation that I love belonging to groups too, but if you create or administer a group you have the right…and obligation to make sure it is a site that you want your name attached to. I talked about ‘stepping up’ and showing Universities and future employers that you understand the power of the web. That you know there is responsibilites that come with posting information in this open, public place we call the Internet. I’m happy to report that visiting the two groups today here is the message I was greeted with: ATTENTION**To create the safe environment, safe privacy, and profanity free environment, adjustment were, and will be made** and ******* IMPORTANT *******October 29th, 2007:Recently Shanghai American School staff have discovered this group and used it as an example of an unsafe, inappropriate internet social network in a school-wide assembly (including the pictures in the album). Initially this group was NOT meant to be an inappopriate group or contain sexually explicit material, so PLEASE help keep it that way. Teachers and staff and anyone will be able to view anything you post here since it’s a public group and I am keeping it that way, because I mean it when I say this group was not created to toe the lines of unsafe internet conduct. Personally I don’t understand why people see...

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Fear + Unknown = Bubble

Some great discussion from the e-mail I posted from a former student of mine who is finding his new school more restrictive than what we had in place here last year. I say last year because we have tightened the belt a little on students here. He was also in my teentek.com class last year and hacked up our themes and was the system admin for the site for the year. He also would get frustrated with students wasting time on “stupid flash games” and took it upon himself to seek and destroy flash games as student downloaded them. He knew the “hiding places” and would keep our system clean for us. Number 2: You cannot modify the computer I understand…and I’m pretty sure he does understand why this has been locked. He knows his way around a computer…others not so much and we’d end up with a lot of dead computers. Number 4: No inappropriate content…what is inappropriate? Is the YouTube video of a guy on a skate board crashing inappropriate or educational? When you’re talking porn I understand, but are anti-government sites inappropriate? How about medical sites? It’s an interesting conversation. It’s the changing landscape that has instilled this fear in us. I actually read blogs today, I mean really sat and did some reading. The first since I’ve arrived here in Shanghai back on August 1st…it felt good. Here are some thoughts that I think tie in to what I’ve been talking about. From BusinessWeek via Will R Complicating matters is the fact that the very idea of a company is shifting away from a single outfit with full-time employees and a recognizable hierarchy. It is something much more fluid, with a classic corporation at the center of an ever-shifting network of suppliers and outsourcers, some of whom only join the team for the duration of a single project. From Remote Access We move from spaces where we “do” things that are educational “to” kids, towards becoming spaces that allow students more control, and empower them to become independent, globally concerned learners. From Scholastic “Every school in the country is grappling with the same issues.” According to Will Richardson, author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, we have seen the enemy, and it is us. Adults simply don’t know how to model appropriate digital behavior, he believes, so kids are making...

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Technology to push teachers

Some interesting conversations have come out of my last post “Goodbye to your job.“ Now do I seriously thing that the Microsoft Surface is going to make teachers obsolete? No, but I do believe a product like the Microsoft Surface is going to push teachers to rethink education. Especially if students are already telling me “You won’t have a job.” Absolutely! What excites me is not the Microsoft Surface itself but the technology. My favorite part of the video below is the part where the guy is standing and playing with Google Earth on a wall, or flat surface. That is the technology that will push teacher to rethink how to teach and what it means to interact with information. I can not wait for the day when schools are buying Google Earth Pro accounts instead of pull down world maps that are out of date before they are hung in our classrooms, and then stay in our classrooms for years never to be updated. In 1999 I taught 4th grade with a pull down map that still had USSR on it. It’s not the actual device that excites me, it’s the opportunity it provides us with to interact with information on a whole new level. To be able to touch, remix, slide, and manipulate information like never before. This technology will push teachers to rethink their lessons, rethink their teaching, and rethink how you arrange desks in a classroom where every wall is a learning surface. What will teaching be like in this new classroom? Maybe that’s the reason why my students said “Goodbye to your job.” Maybe they understand that technologies like this are coming, and that if we do not change then school’s will no longer fit their needs. If schools continue to not embrace these changes then students will learn on their own with these technologies in their homes. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately on the single device that is going to do it all. The more I listen to podcasts, read stuff on the web, and look at new products coming out. I have to say the gaming console has to be the top of my list. You can connect to the web Download movies, songs, games Join communities Watch TV Play Games and they have a larger hard drive then my laptop. As gaming consoles continue to evolve and pickup...

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Bloom's Taxonomy Revisited

Bloom’s Taxonomy the foundation for most educators, and education through the last part of the 20th Century looks at Lower-Order Thinking Skills and Higher-Order Thinking Skills. Most educators no matter where they have been educated at one time or another have probably come across Bloom’s Taxonomy. The problem is, created in 1954 does it still apply today? Found on the American Psychological Association’s (APA) web site is a new look at Bloom’s Taxonomy written for the learner of the 21st Century. What does this new taxonomy mean for teaching? Has anything changed? I for one find it refreshing that we have taken this age old educational foundation tool and reworked it to work in a new age. An age where our students are engaged in the Higher-Order Skill of creating more than we realize. They create videos on YouTube, profiles on myspace, and encyclopedias at wikipedia. Our students today are natural creators of information and according to this new taxonomy of Basic Skills are engaged in their own learning at a very high level. However, where do we as an educational system engage students? Reflecting on last year and the majority of what I saw happening in classrooms I would say that education is still focused on the lower-order skills of 1. Remembering 2. Understanding and 3. Applying. When our students, in their personal lives, are already at a level 6. Creating, they come to schools where they feel ‘dumb downed’ or disconnected. This might be the first time that a taxonomy actually shows that we are under teaching our students. The two most missed levels in my experience are levels 4 and 5 Analyze and Evaluate. Some teachers do have students create projects: videos, podcasts, posters, etc, but do we teach students to analyze and evaluate the quality of these product? To me, that is where we need to focus. Our students are already creating, but do they know how to evaluate good creations? I think art does this better then any other subject area. In most art classes you take time to really evaluate and analyze art, looking at color, the angle of light, the texture. Do we spend time like that in other subject areas evaluating and analyzing? Even better on the site is the Cognitive Taxonomy Circle shown below: This is a great place to take 5 minutes to reflect on your teaching. Where do...

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