turning stones

taking for a spin: tools for The Five 8s

Tag Archives: education

Passion or Vocation?

Image courtesy of ictlic.eq.edu.au

Right, I titled this post with a question. Because this will all be about questions. And, starting to write this, I do not have answers in mind. Just more questions.

In Education, everybody is a stakeholder. The learner, his parents, his teachers, his school, his society. Because of this, it should be in everyone’s priority list. But is it? We hear of the bright boys at the DepEd planning additional years for traditional schooling. Is that the right path to take? Should additional years mean additional learning? Is there a one-to-one correspondence? Maybe so. But is it really necessary? And what do they propose? Isagani Cruz said, a year of English. DepEd says, to make high school graduates ’employable’.

But there are many stakeholders of education who vigorously oppose this. They say, fix the current system first. Which side do we take? What do you think?

Will we able to really overhaul and improve quality that the additional two years need not address? Or are the supplementary two years really just that? A desperate supplement of quantity since we know not how to raise quality? Is this the main thesis of this post? No it isn’t. I’m just asking questions. And I know there are no perfect answers.

Given the ten or twelve-year scheme, the questions are still there. What do we teach? How do we teach it? There are a lot of ways out there. We choose what we think suits our students best. But do we customize our curriculum to suit individual needs? Sounds good. But when do we standardize? Isn’t that a relevant need too? To homogenize the curriculum so that students are at par with a common measure as society still places much emphasis on standards and measures?

Do we develop, in our young, the skills to be ’employable’? Are we doing progressive ways of teaching and learning to provide them with the skills they need for their economic future? We do not even know what those skills are, do we? Or do we focus on nurturing their passions? But how close are we to realize that? Yes, we know of several people who have pursued their passions. How many can we name? Can we count ourselves in to that list? Is it the school system that made them passionate or did they need do that outside school?

Is education that foster students’ passion reserved only for the privileged and those who belong to privileged societies? Even first-world, western societies are not spared by this. Are we ready to advocate customized learning in a system that craves standardization? This isn’t just a catch 22 or chicken-or-the-egg thing, is it? These are my questions. Are they yours too?

Image courtesy of infospace.ischool.syr.edu

There are no perfect answers. We know that. We can only do our best. And it’s tough to balance or do both sides of the coin. Vocation or passion? Customized or standardized? And we have to continuously seek what is best all the time.

  1. Provide students with broad experiences.
  2. Develop in them a variety of skills.
  3. Make them understand and appreciate diverse perspectives.
  4. Uncover their hidden talents and interests.
  5. Make them life-long learners.

These are fairly well accepted purpose of school. Maybe this is how we see our current prototype and we justify it assuming we are accomplishing our goal. But we have to look that way. We have to look at a direction. We have to keep asking questions. Curriculum could not be set in stone. It is as dynamic as everyday life is. There is no central thesis for this post. I am just asking questions.

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Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy on Prezi

Most of us teachers, at one time or another, have studied Bloom’s Taxonomy. Named after Benjamin Bloom, editor of The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives(1956), it was pretty much the bible of any student of education. Since its publishing, Bloom’s thoughts and central ideas have gone through a lot. Just as anything or anybody would have gone through plenty in 54 years of existence. It has been tossed around a lot, debated upon, trampled on, praised as gospel truth, etc. Because of this, the taxonomy has gone through several revisions, many variations, addenda and changes in terminology(nouns/verbs). Today’s education scholars continue this vigorous activity.
Probably the latest version of the hierarchy is the one of Andrew Churches called Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. As teachers, it might be good to review past learnings. Here’s a link to Joshua Coupal’s Prezi on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy(2009).

Changing Education Paradigms

I came across this Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce(RSA) video through Brazilian educator, Ana Maria Menezes’ page. This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA recently by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.

Tell a Compelling Story via Social Media

Social Media is the main buzz nowadays. I’m sure it is becoming more and more difficult to find inhabitants of this planet who have not been exposed to social media. Just some figures I found:

Facebook Stats(www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics)

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook

Twitter Stats(www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/14/twitter-user-statistics-r_n_537992.html)

  • Twitter now has 105,779,710 registered users.
  • New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
  • Twitter users are, in total, tweeting an average of 55 million tweets a day.

YouTube Stats(www.website-monitoring.com/blog/2010/05/17/youtube-facts-and-figures-history-statistics/)

  • Exceeds 2 billion views a day
  • 24 hours of video uploaded every minute
  • Average person spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube

Just looking at those stats we realize the power of these networks. And there are so much more than just those 3 most popular sites. They provide terabyte upon terabyte of information. When television/news networks cover events, information is not only provided by their field reporters, information is supplied by many sources. These networks follow trends of events in social media sites, tracking updates from warm bodies who are actually in the scene and airing opinions of those who aren’t. Our hobby or habit of typing updates, letting the world know what is happening around us and what we feel about it can be harnessed to come up with a unique story.

Enter Storify. Storify is a web application used to tell stories with elements from social media like tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube videos, Flickr photos, blog entries or others. You can tell your own story, a school event, news that have global impact, a weather report, a disaster. Readers can go to the original sources quoted and also retweet or reply and interact. When you’re finished, you can let your sources know that you have cited them in your story. You can share it on your social network or embed it on your blog or website.

Visit storify.com and send an email to get an invite. Testing Storify, I created my own simple story about what I did for onedayonearth.org here.

I just added another storify… made it in 5 minutes… here is XS Dress Me A Literary!

Storify from Burt Herman on Vimeo.

Getting Kids to Blog Safely

The Operation NExT Team has been encouraging Xavier School teachers to blog about their professional life, their experiences in and out of the classroom, the technologies and strategies that they use, their insights and successes as teachers and formators. Also WordPress is being introduced to students from Grade 5 to High 4 for them to build and maintain their individual Personal Learning Websites(PLWS).

It’s a great leap for Xavier School as teachers and staff and students are starting to blog. You should visit their sites and take a look at what they have to say and learn what they are learning.

WordPress is the preferred platform due to its robust elements, which includes wide layout flexibility and its more open commenting feature. It can be pretty demanding to the uninitiated, first time user. But it gets easy as you use it. So yes, we feel that WordPress is appropriate to our 5th graders. However, we can go even younger. As early as when we start computer classes in 3rd grade.

And yes, we have an age-appropriate WordPress version for them. Welcome KIDBLOG! A simple and secure site teachers can use to create space for students to blog. Here’s how it works:

  1. teacher creates an account using his/her email address
  2. teacher enters user names and assigns passwords for each student in class
  3. teacher tells students to go to the class site
  4. students see a drop down list of user names and log in
  5. voila… they can start blogging
  6. teacher may want everything to run by him/her for approval before publishing

KidBlog is secure because kids do not have to have their own email addresses. The teacher can have control over all posts, reviewing them before it gets published. The teacher has control over who can view and make comments on the blog; either named users(class members) only, or all visitors. This is also a good way to let parents know what their children are doing and learning in class(if you choose that path).

KidBlog is easy to use. User can upload pictures, link sites and videos and comment on each others works. Even if it is simple and does not have all of its features, it has the look and feel of WordPress. I create a class site for Operation NExT Team members and I made viewing public so anyone can visit kidblog.org/larrydlpsnextclass.

A great and fun way to learn!

A Playground for Ideas

An online community for teachers. A forum for innovation and collaboration. A rich and powerful resource, WeAreTeachers combines the expertise of its member community, the knowledge base of its partners and the momentum of social media in providing and contributing ideas for teaching and learning. Listing resources on an myriad of subjects and grade levels, signing up and joining WeAreTeachers is easy and free.
Teaching and learning ideas are not limited to the use of technology. There are individual, group, short or long-term projects and activities. An intuitive search feature returns results that are quite specific to what you are looking for. There are plenty of links to other resources.

If you are a teacher with a blog, you can submit your link here and WeAreTeachers can help you get exposure. You can also sign up to participate in teacher panels as well as submit your teaching and learning ideas.

So what will this be about?

I like searching for ideas, resources, free tools teachers can use. Not only on infusing technology into their teaching, but also other ways of spurring students into learning. Activities that engage students, widen or deepen understanding. It can be in any subject area.
I will be combing the net for teacher blogs, organization websites, tech magazines and I will share what I find here.

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