Finding a great, current leadership and technology oriented blog is like Finding Carter [the TV series]

Finding a great, current leadership and technology oriented blog is like Finding Carter [the TV series]. The balance between where we are now and the way we were brought up creates episodes of drama. Blogmaster and educational technology expert Scott McLeod, with his blog titled Dangerously Irrelevant hits his readership with a constant barrage of repent-from-your-old-ways messages, which are difficult to palate, but are also the wake-up calls we all, collectively, need to hear. Change is hard. As McLeod points out in his About Me link, the point of his blog is to make a strong effort to resolve inherent incongruities educators experience when technological and social change makes traditional approaches to learning “dangerously irrelevant.” So then, how will we meet our children’s’ learning needs?

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The way I see it, educators are not recognizing Jovans Paradox on a large enough scale. It is the paradox educators need to understand and believe in order to share the full-front embrace educational technology deserves, but slowly, with the help of educational leaders like McCleod, teachers and administrators are figuring it out. In economics, Jovans Paradox is when technological progress increases the efficiency of a resource which, in turn, reduces resource needs. Educators understand that part. Technology is making the information teachers have portioned out over the ages ready and available, but the paradox is that with the increase of knowledge availability and decreased need for teacher-lead knowledge rations, the demand for knowledge has increased, and therefore, the need for teachers as facilitators and guides has dramatically increased. That is what makes traditional approaches to teaching incongruent in today’s society and economy. The paradox is that students need teachers more than ever, but in a new way.
Tech lead Kent Beck, in his book, Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, said, “The business changes. The technology changes. The team changes. The team members change. The problem isn’t change, per se, because change is going to happen; the problem, rather, is the inability to cope with change when it comes.”
Coping means more than finding and understanding the cause of our dramatic episodes with technology in education. Coping means applying strategies to change ourselves, and that is why Scott McLeod is pushing so hard. Change is the only relevant way to make a positive difference in education today.
Beck, K. (2005). Extreme programming explained: embrace change (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River,NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
McLeod, S. (n.d.). About me [Web log comment]. Retrieved fromhttp://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/bio

Five Lessons I Intend my Students to Learn

Decisions Ahead

As my students begin to see the summer light at the end of the hallway, I think about the set useful experiences they will carry from my classroom as they matriculate away in June. Beyond knowing the content of the fourth grade NC Standard Course of Study, I intend my students to have embedded habits that will give them the learning-independence they need to meet with confidence the coming challenges of school and beyond, or at least the seeds of those habits.
First, I expect my students will assume responsibility for their own education.
Second, I expect my students will maintain comfort in the midst of uncertainty.
Third, I expect my students will thrive on metaphorical expression.
Fourth, I expect my students will differentiate academic language from basic interpersonal communication,
and fifth, I expect my students will have a sense of when and how to negotiate, that is, yes, how to argue.

Self-regulated learners distinguish themselves with a unique set of assumptions. I work to get my students to embrace these assumptions. When my students do well, they think they had something to do with the results, which encourages them to repeat such actions. When things go awry, they believe the associated problems are correctable, and they are encouraged to fix what missed the mark. In class, praise for things done well are easily expressed. I believe that limited praise and false praise deter upward progress. I make it clear to my students that they have not been successful by accident. This may seem trivial, but I believe it is important for them to know that success is linked to their action. Self-regulated learners take responsibility for their education. The work of Barry J. Zimmerman and Dale H. Schunk goes into greater detail about self-regulated learning.

When kids get confused, they initially tend to think that being a little bit lost means being greatly lost, but instead, that disequilibrium is the very point in time when they learn. Thoughts of self at that point distract, so I encourage my students to stay focused on the topic and not on themselves. It is a difficult skill for classmates to avoid saying, “You are wrong,” instead of, “I think the solution is more like this.” Fear of focus on being wrong deters upward progress. Feeling safe to be wrong leads to comfort with uncertainty.

When I shared the first sentence of this blog entry with my fourth graders, they understood that summer light means summer fun. We all need to use abstract metaphors to think and to express our thoughts effectively, so providing plenty of opportunities to cipher them is an important and welcome challenge. It is a pleasure to watch while one student explains to another what just happened in the class discussion.

Too often students learn vocabulary in isolation by simply knowing a definition that does not strike a melodious chord in context. I try to use comprehensible input, as Stephen Krashen has explained for second language acquisition. (See this clip for Krashen’s explanation of comprehensible input) Helping students use academic language instead of interpersonal strategies parallels the way they learn second languages. Mathematics has its own language students need to acquire. Instead of vague descriptions and smiles, I encourage my students to use the correct words for the concepts they mean to express.

Students need the skills and experience of presenting themselves and their own ideas beyond doing what they are told to do. They need the means to come to terms with things that are important. Once students take responsibility for their own learning, they take a serious interest in what they are learning. They develop depth of interest that gives them the will to weather uncertainty. Curious metaphorical connections interest them, and they care to explain their thoughts well using the right words. Any student ready to do all that will certainly need to negotiate meaning, and to negotiate direction. Once my students have begun to separate and wield academic language effectively, they are ready to use interpersonal communication to express their point of view. They know to present themselves calmly, and that “I don’t want to…” holds very little argumentative weight.

It is great to know stuff, especially standard course of study stuff, but when students make the knowledge their own, they begin to see all things in a new light, and then go there.
I look forward to your input and comments.

Back attack: A new card game I invented using a standard set of playing cards

Here are the directions to a new card game I invented. It is fun, and I would like your feedback. Try it out! Let me know. I think it can teach students how to create strategies in new and novel ways.

Back Attack

A new trick-winning game for three to six players using a standard deck of cards

Directions:

  • Setting up the game
    • Dealer deals out cards, face down, to players evenly.
      • Left-over cards serve as a blind, additional hand until exhausted.
    • Each player must privately arrange cards accordingly:
      • Descending order, left to right, from Aces to threes,
      • Descending suites within each similarly valued cards,
        • left to right spade, heart, diamond, club,
      • Twos distributed according to arranging player’s choice.
    • Each player passes the arranged hand of cards to the player to the right face down.
    • Each player never sees cards in-hand until each card is played.
      • Each player fans cards out- face out- looking at the backs of the cards.
      • Each player can see the cards of all the other players, but not the cards in hand.
  • Play begins
    • The player to the right of the dealer goes first by choosing a card in hand, but not seen, knowing the higher cards are to the right, and the lower cards are to the left.
    • The next player to the right plays a blind, in-hand card knowing values increase to the right, and knowing all the other players’ cards.
    • Each player plays one blind card each round.
    • Any left-over card due to the number of players playing, is played blind last with the potential to win the round.
    • The player with the highest valued card wins the trick.
      • If the left-over card wins, the trick is discarded.
    • In subsequent rounds, the dealer is the player to the right of the last dealer.
  • How tricks are won
    • With aces and spades high, all the cards have a unique sequential value.
    • The highest-valued card wins the trick. Any card may be played any round.
    • The twos are all distributed throughout the unplayed cards in-hand.
    • The lowest of all cards, the two of clubs, is wild, and is therefore the highest card.
  • Sample strategies of play
    • Each player may attempt to win tricks using the lowest cards possible.
    • After playing a blind card, a player knows that the all the cards to the right are higher than the played card, and that all the cards to the left are lower- except for possible twos.
    • Each player can figure the number of twos in-hand by counting the other, exposed twos.
    • In the first few rounds, players can sample their hand by choosing cards according to position.

I wrote a Poem based on a borrowed Sentence. Thank you David Scheinker.

Cats Cats Fight Fight.

I had a cat.

She fought a cat.

The cat she fought

Fought her back.

Cats cats fight fight.

But  it is not just that cats cats fight fight…

My neighbor’s dog

Bit a dog

That bit him back,

And so now I know- Dogs dogs bite must bite.

I look around and learn:

Countries countries cheat cheat,

And- People people hurt hurt,

Leading children children hate to hate.

But, so- Lovers lovers love love.

And-  Friends friends befriend befriend.

Certainly- Believers believers believe believe.

So then- Experience experience wields wields.

And in the end- Hope true hope heals heals for Good.

                                               Scott Dodd

                                               March 10, 2012