Reflections on Day Two at NECC 2009

July11

The Great Debate

Video: NECC 2009 Tuesday Keynote: Debate and Dialog | ISTE Connects – Educational Technology

Live Blog I participated in

RESOLVED: Brick and mortar schools are detrimental to learning.

This was not much of a “debate” since one of the guys who argued the affirmative didn’t find much to like about virtual alternatives, and the lady for the opposing point of view thought that schools couldn’t go on as they are either, and should have more technology.

I started the debate favoring the negative. Cheryl Lemke had a strong, well-reasoned delivery (ex, “…distance learning has the word “distance” in it”).

Gary Stager one of those who argued the affirmative, has often left me scratching my head. I like to think of him as an ed tech Thomas Paine, leading the clarion call for change. Unfortunately, Paine was unable to participate in the “new order” when change finally came. I mean this as no disrespect, to Dr. Stager. All revolutions need their agitators, and he is marvelous in this role. He has also obviously done some fantastic work with students both young and old.  In this instance though, Gary stole the show, and made me change my “vote”.  Here are some “favorite” quotes…

Coup de grace: the blame is in bankruptcy of our imagination

Pedagogical emphasis is on PRODUCT vs PROCESS

Online is taking worst of bricks and mortar

Whiteboards? Focus is still on the front of the room

Gary’s argument was against schools as they are, and Cheryl’s was for schools as they could be (Gary definitely had that too, but he made the strongest anti-status quo argument). They’re both right.

Metaphor for Instruction

metaphorswithtechnology – wiki
Presenters: Vivian Johnson, Hamline University with Cara Hagen

This was one of my FAVORITE sessions. I’ve been doing my own explorations using visual metaphor with my students. It’s a really great way to teach concepts to language learners. The presenters had a different and more structured approach than I was learning, so it was a good session for me to attend. They had a wiki setup for the session, and sent out an email alerting us of this in advance of the session. They were doing a team presentation, and quickly and seamlessly handled approving all of us having access on the wiki, so the technical aspects were very smooth. They modeled what they do, finding an image/visual to show a concept, and how to embed pic in wiki. They showed using mind maps, and other organizers, and suggested having HS students work on which type (linear vs. free-form) works best for them. They had us go to the discussion tab, and share what concepts our students have the most trouble understanding. We then picked one out from the concepts, and worked on finding an image to explain it. I chose someone else’s suggestion of Main Idea, which language learners have a hard time with. They tend towards a complete recount, rather than summarizing. Here is what I came up with, which suggests that it’s an outline. They then provided a rubric since the idea is for students to do this activity. I would highly recommend this session for educators working with language learners, and special education students who need visual support.

Pink Slip Season Starts…

February27

…with this tweet from Dan Meyer announcing he’s been laid off, RIFed, pink slipped, axed, etc.

…and this response from Will Richardson, which strikes me as funny/sweet given the riding Dan’s given him in the past:

Notices will be going out in my district in the next few weeks, and based on the rumors, there will be four to five of our 20 teacher given notice. Folks outside California are bemoaning how someone as obviously talented as Dan could be let go of. Let me just share that some of the teachers being let go at my site are of similar caliber. We may have a budget in California, but thanks to Republican’s insistence on “no nude texans”, big cuts are on the way.  Here is what I know so far

  • We will have to reduce our 2008-09 general fund budget by $9.4 million.- SCUSD Superintendent Susan Miller
  • Stimulus projection shows us getting $17M in Title 1 + $12M in IDEA – CBO
    since that’s categorical, they still may be having serious issues in the non-Title 1/IDEA part of the budget, or they’ll lay folks off, then rescind it in August, pissing everyone off.
  • Talks with a co-worker who is active in our union, involve class-size in K, ninth, or third up to 25, 240 teachers laid off, and this WITH COLA freezes, and salary rollbacks. Health care is apparently killing the budget and is a big sticking point.

As Dan suggests, it’s a good time to hug your local untenured teacher.

And I’ll leave you with these, just to cheer you up:

Reflecting on the Bush II Years

January21

It’s time for me to reflect on the, thankfully, outgoing administration. If you don’t like my politics post, I’d suggest skipping this one.

My favorite (unintentional) visual commentary on NCLB:
DOE in DC

NCinDC’s Photostream on Flickr

My favorite commentary on the Iraq War based on spin from the same folks that brought us the “Texas Miracle“:

My favorite commentary on this whole sorry presidency and the electoral lunacy that allowed it to take place Here’s to the end of false dichotomies like, phonics vs. whole language, and psuedo-science that passes for reading programs:

Dh (dear husband) commented that Ed Rollins was saying complimentary things about Obama. Now, I’m sure this could have been because of this an innate respect for authority and the position of president that some conservatives (not all) have, but I smirked and asked if he was looking for some job security. Dh then related this piece from WaPo on the difficulties faced by newly out-of-work Bush appointees in D.C. finding work. I’ll just leave them with the words of ColdPlay:

Really, the lyrics fit in every way but one, none of these sorry SOBs are capable of that much self-reflection.

Revisting some old ideas, and tying it up in holiday ribbon…

December28

San Francisco Field Trip

December15

Click on pic for more images

The family and I took a trip to San Francisco to meet up with the husband’s family this weekend, so that dominated our schedule. The first part of the trip was to the Dickens Christmas Faire, a local institution that Terry and his sister have attended for years, but I never got around to going to. My observation, it smelled a lot nicer than Victorian England as the place fairly reeked of some mixture of cloves and spice. I guess it’s like the Bellagio, all of the canals–none of the sewage?
Sunday was a trip to the California Academy of Sciences. This was one of a number of San Francisco museums to undergo renovation recently. It’s reopened in the last few months, so there were crowds. Husband and sister in law used to go there as kids back in the day (the 1970s), when most children’s facilities run by the city had free-admission for local kids. Now it cost us $65 to get in with two adults and the son. Dh liked it, but it was definitely not the CAS of old. SIL hated it for that reason. She did bring up an interesting point, that they had cut the number of exhibits, including ones she loved. One of them was the “Hall of Man” which had old school exhibits about the evolutionary development of mankind. The evolution part seemed to be regulated to botany and zoology in the Islands of Evolution exhibits which focused on the Galapagos, and Madagascar islands. This made me wonder how both liberal and conservative desires could be shifting the focus of teaching about evolutionary science. I’m sure that the “Hall of Man” seemed too anthro-centric, and shifting to the Galapagos gets you talking about ecosystems, not just one species. OTOH, it helps you conveniently avoid discussing man as a primate, and keep the focus on turtles and frogs, which is less inflammatory to the anti-evolution crowd. I’m just wondering?

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