New Teachers Won’t Save Us

New Teachers Won’t Save Us

This is going to come as a shock I know…but pre-service education programs are not preparing teachers for a technology rich classroom teaching experience. Or to put that another way the classrooms of today. According to a Project Tomorrow Report …principals concluded that they want to hire new teachers with creative ideas about how technology can be leveraged to create authentic and differentiated learning experiences. But student-teachers report that their tech training focuses only on simple management tools. At the same time, the report concludes that those who have the biggest influence on new teachers — veteran educators –  don’t always embrace new ways of using technology to engage students. ~MindShift This is an issue and one I have seen first hand. I have had the privilege of meeting with pre-service educators in both undergraduate programs and Master’s In Teaching programs…mostly here in the State of Washington. Now some of these programs are doing things different, trying to do things differently or bring a different approach. However, for the most part what I’m finding is technology is still an afterthought in these programs and not a true representation of what is happening in schools. One of the main issues I see is that technology, in many programs, is a separate course and is not integrated into each of the subject/classes that a pre-service educator takes. History teachers….as part of their program should be required to know how to use all the amazing layers found in Google Earth. Math teachers should know about things like PhotoMath and how you could leverage this in the classroom. English teachers should study and understand how writing has changed over the years and have students practice writing in mediums that apply to 2014. Blogs, Tweets, Status Updates, images and videos. Those are the writing tools of today and of the future. Or how about just on an professional level. I wonder how many pre-service program cover things like: How to respond to an upset parent over email How to respond to an upset student over email How to respond to colleagues professionally over email How to write a professional email that conveys your message and will be read How to handle a situation in which a parents sends you a DM on Facebook about their child (yes they can…yes it happens) How to handle yourself professionally when everyone has a camera in their pocket...

Read More

We Need Better Presentations

We Need Better Presentations

Over the past few weeks while visiting different schools I have observed while walking down hallways, peeking in on meetings, or just end up watching presentation being delivered by educators that….well….are really bad. I’m not talking about classroom teachers standing and giving presentations to students, I’m talking about counselors explaining the PSAT results to students, administrators presenting to staff, staff presenting to staff and presentations to parents. We’re talking presentation that have 5+ bullet points per page, text somewhere around 16 size font, and just an overall presentation that would put the most passionate person to sleep. I look at all these presentations and then look at the type of presentations our students create for the classroom and projects and see a direct correlation….they’re bad! The idea of giving a presentation has changed over the years, thanks in part to books like Presentation Zen (a must read for anyone that does presentations), TED Talks, and even Keynotes by Apple, Google and other companies of late. Presentations that are based both on sound fundamentals of presenting as well as telling an engaging story. See: Lecture as content delivery is dead Now I understand that there isn’t anyway to make the PSAT sexy. That there is information that counselors need to give to students. I get it…but that doesn’t mean that you don’t put in the time to make the presentation something that they will actually remember. Brain Fact: We remember 65% more when we attach an image to information (Rule #10) Whether that is a graph, a chart, or an memorable image. Images are the most important part of the information you should put on a slide.   Brain Fact: We can’t listen and read at the same time (Rule #4) Try it….try reading a book and watching your favorite movie at the same time. You either are missing the movie or you’re not reading the book. We know this…..yet we put lots of words on a slide for people to read and then talk over them or about them while people are trying to read. You are making your audience choose to either read the slide or listen to you. Worse yet is having people take notes copy word for word what is on the slide. What’s the point of this? If you want people to have the information give it to them in a handout. Unless you are...

Read More

Teaching Social Networks

Teaching Social Networks

Some rights reserved by Brice Reul  In two weeks time I have to give a presentation to our high school student body. I always struggle the most with what to talk to them about…..them being kids in general. I’ve got about 15 minutes to inspire them to use technology in ways that really matter.  Thanks to the Kony 2012 campaign I have a starting point to talk about this new world that they are going to create. I believe this generation could be the greatest generation since the great WWI generation years ago. They have the ability to connect and communicate in a virtual way that can bring real impact to the world. We are already seeing it happen: The 2008 Presidential U.S. elections, Arab Spring, London Riots, Occupy Wall Street, Stop SOPA, and now Kony 2012 just to name a few of the larger movements where social networking has had a direct impact on world changing events.  ….and the great news is….this generation is just getting started.  They have older generations running scared. From Iran to Syria, China, Thailand and most of the western world, governments and generations are fearing what is to come when this generation decides they have had enough, can connect, communicate, and bring about change in the blink of an eye.  I read a new term the other day: Slacktivism: The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist. The underlying assumption being promoted by the term is that these low cost efforts substitute for more substantive actions rather than supplementing them, although this assumption has not been borne out by research. I am still feeling my way around this new term and not sure I totally agree with its ideals. The cases I stated above are all cases where the rally cries within social networks saw real change in the world. Retweeting or reposting the Kony 2012 video is good for spreading the message, but what are you and I going to do in the real world that really matters? That’s what this will come down to. 100 million views on YouTube mean nothing if nothing changes for the better out here. And then there is our generations, any of...

Read More

The Seoul Of It All

The Seoul Of It All

At the end of last week I flew to Seoul, Korea to spend two PD days with educators at Seoul Foreign School (SFS). SFS, like so many other international schools in Asia are in the midst of rolling out their 1:1 program. This year their 5th adn 6th graders are in the program and next year they will be expanding that upwards through the grade levels as they continue the role out.  It was a fun two days filled with conversations and ideas. I met with math teachers on the second day and promptly stole everything that Dan Meyer has to offer (Thanks Dan!).   I also met with the primary teachers who teach 3-5 year olds. I had my hardest time talking technology with this group of educators. I believe what the brain research is telling us in that this age group should be spending as little time in front of computers as possible. The TED talk below is a good place to start and talks about how to develop the language center in the brain you can’t substitute computers for human contact. I’m not sure it’s a good move for a consultant who is brought in to champion tech to say….you shouldn’t be using very much. I do think limited exposure isn’t a bad thing, but the key word there is limited. I still want these kids playing with blocks and with each other. In the end it was great to spend time at a fantastic school who like the rest of big schools in Asia are asking big questions, innovating at every turn, and taking a risk on what the future of education might...

Read More

Learning through Presentations

“How many of you have done the 18 minute, right before class, copy and paste, plagiarized, bullet point, turn and read off the screen PowerPoint Presentation? Be honest.” Every hand in the room goes up. We know it as educators, kids know it as students. The presentation really is about finding information, putting it on some slides, add some transitions and then telling the rest of the class what it is you found. Then there is the audience who is suppose to take notes on the information. A.K.A. copy the bulletpoints in bulletpoint format onto a piece of paper. Because there is so much learning in copying words from the slide to paper….NOT……and of course as you are busy copying the words you’re not listening to what the presenter is saying…not that it matters they’re just reading the words off the slides anyway.    What if there was a different way? What if the presentation was a story, a journey, an in-depth look into some aspect of a book, a time period as told through images and the research of the storyteller. What if the preperation of making the presentation was about learning? What if it was about crafting a story and understanding a topic to the point where you could stand and without notes, without bulletpoints tell your story.  That’s exactly what I’ve been working with in partnership with one of our high school English teachers. Let me give you the outline. Students in 9th grade English are reading To Kill a Mockingbird. A classic read for many students in high school. To help students understand the novel and the time period in which it takes place. Each student researches some aspect of the 1930’s. Students are given a list of topics or are free to come up with their own. Some topics include, Adolf Hitler, Fascism, The Great Depression, FDR, Women in 1930 America.  Students have free range to choose a topic (Autonomy) as long as they can tie it some how to the book, or how this might have affected the characters in the book in that time period.  Once they have chosen their topic and had a conversation about the angle they are going to take with it and how it ties to the book, they are set free to research (Mastery).  The Purpose is to craft a story on how or why they feel...

Read More