Education or National Healthcare

March 13, 2010

When people are sick they go to the doctor and when they need education they go to a teacher. The difference lies in the treatment plans and the way we pay for these services. Healthcare is considered by some to be a right, just as education is. Well for those who think a national healthcare system would guarantee that right, think again. If education, a long standing right can go down the tubes then so can healthcare.

The economic storm has caused the levy to burst open and monies funding education have spilled uncontrollably down into a deep chasm forming what amounts to an abscess festering like an untended wound. It is too raw to heal without help. If only you’d been able to buy educational insurance maybe your child could be guaranteed the education they deserve. Unfortunately no such options exist.

With all the fuss about the healthcare crisis and all the debate about insuring the uninsured and making healthcare available to everyone it seems to me, the whole preventation has been overlooked. Education is all about prevention and therefore I would like to state that without adequate education our society will be too sick for ANY kind of healthcare system to redeem.

Now what? We grasp for purchase in the spinning vortex of political rhetoric. It is sucking the life out of education, public safety and the general infrastructure of society. I think the only thing national healthcare can offer the public now, is unlimited refills on pain medication to make our economic future more palatable. Put your money where your mouth is, US Government, and stop telling us that we need to accept your bitter pill of healthcare reform. No amount of healthcare will stem the education crisis, and without education what hope do we have for an employable workforce or a viable future? EDUCATION IS OUR BEST PREVENTATIVE STRATEGY. EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN IS OUR BEST INSURANCE POLICY.

For a well researched comparison education and healthcare models refer to this post


Define Textbook

February 2, 2010
How will the Georgia Senate define textbook? The future of our students’ backpacks hang in the balance!
clipped from

Well, maybe. On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate voted 45-5 to expand the definition of “textbook” to include computer hardware and technical equipment to support the use of digital content.

  blog it

Are you a closet organizer?

January 27, 2010

I am sitting in a session with the notable Bernajean Porter who is expertly guiding a small group of 30 or so Fulton County teachers to a new understanding of tranformative learning I have had an epiphany! Ms. Porter has devloped a grid for understanding a hierarchy learning and it occurred to me that most of us are or have been closet organizers! Ask yourself this question… Have you ever used technology as the hanger and the content as the articles of clothing students hang up neatly in their closet of knowledge? I realize this is a very personal question but I think if you’re honest with yourself you’ll find that because of the standards and content requirements we are all expected to deliver in a timely fashion, we often take out the content and hang it up on the technology hangar and make sure it is neatly organized, even color coded in the closet! That’s is, from now on, my kids are going to take out their content and display it in many different forms, venues and truly express their appreciation, passion and new ideas generated in openness. Bernajean insists that higher order learning will lead to higher standardized test scores. What do you think?

Inspired Classroom – Inspiration and Persperation

January 3, 2010

inspired classroom logoThe Inspired Classroom is now part of an experiment for a handful of teachers in my elementary school. Thanks to our innovative principal, Matt Rogers, our focus will be to provide greater and more timely access to web based tools, data and opportunities for interaction, for our students. The model, pioneered back in ’06 by Darren Wilson from Texas, is being used in pockets around the country and perhaps elsewhere but it is largely an underground movement. It’s partly an issue of branding, lack of central leadership and the use of private classroom wikis or LMSs creating sealed pockets of experiences.

The set up involves creating a 4-5:1 ratio of computers to students in your classroom and making the computer a part of individual PBLs. In other words, each group of 4 students has a computer sitting at one end of their cluster of desks or table. Lessons follow the typical, direct instruction (mini-lesson) a guided practice (demonstration) and then the students perform a group task independently using the computer as a resource for data, place to post reflections etc… depending on the project requirements. The teacher facilitates the activity and the class reconvenes to share their experiences. Students in each of the project learning teams have individual roles and responsibilities. I have established 4 distinct roles: chooser, recorder, driver and manager. These roles change daily giving each student a new responsibility to look forward to and a new job to learn each day. So far I have only implemented one project and although it was a big hit among students I was baffled as to how I might build in a better mechanism to track/assess the group progress.

I have loads of great ideas, some borrowed and some blooming in the poppy fields of my own imagination. The trouble is, how can I help students record their experiences effectively and use the process as a KWl, a study guide creator, and so on? I am investigating blended learning approaches and virtual school curriculum for clues. Stay tuned for my observations, student and parent reactions and feel free to give your feedback, suggestions or links that might help my students succeed on this new path.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

December 23, 2009

Ramblings on Shelf-life and FB in the Afterlife

October 31, 2009

I have the attention span of a gnat until a thing grabs me and pulls me along with the gravitational force of the sun. Things capture my attention and I follow them like Alice through the rabbit hole until I realize I am lost in time and must escape before I become a permanent part of the matrix. On one such excursion I was following the growth of online freely available courses. I attended a webinar on the subject, browsed and clicked my way though the MIT open courseware offerings and something struck me. No, I wasn’t hit up the backside of the head by my dear neglected husband! It occurred to me that lectures have a shelf life as do videos or moments captured in any venue. webFood for the brain may grow stale over time and we may become ill if we imbibe that rancid milk and honey. So what is the solution? I propose expiration dates for lectures. Just as with food or aspirin we all know the expiration day is vigilantly in favor of the short term usage but may still be good for a length of time thereafter. So too, information.

My other fleeting thought was just the pie-in-the-sky hope for the future when science(or religion establishes that our very existence is just like a nonlinear graphic organizer and that time is ever-present and not on a linear continuum. Non-the-less, I would like to suggest that social networking span the afterlife. It’s silly, really, to keep out our friends and family members simply because they no longer reside in physical form on the planet. Now that would truly make technology ubiquitous, although contact lists might become a bit unwieldy. Writing prompt: What are the pros and cons of expanding social networking to people in other dimensions?

What do you think about on rainy days?

This is just a portion of the twists and turns in my thought process. (Let’s not call it procrastination) It all started with a search to establish the best possible was to introduce division to 3rd graders. Still looking!

New Discovery – The Joy of Learning

October 17, 2009

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium

We are geared to teaching what we can measure, and we can’t measure the joy of discovery. These words are paraphrased from an interview of K.C. Cole on her book entitled, Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up. Frank Oppenheimer helped develop the atomic bomb. He was a pacifist and felt betrayed when it was later dropped on civilians. He felt he had a responsibility to show how to make sense of the world through discovery and went on to develop the Exploratoriumin San Fransisco. He hoped to rekindle peoples’ childhood search for enlightenment, a quest for discovery and a confidence in problem-solving things (typically brushed off) too difficult to understand.

How can teachers provide students with the opportunities to make their own discoveries and follow their innate curiosity? Do we provide too much guidance in guided learning? Is it too contrived? Can we replicate an Exploratorium feel in the classroom making discovery an individual and not a group think kind of activity? Science is sight-seeing! That was Frank’s message as a teacher.

Teachers walk into a museum expecting a guided tour. It is an efficient way to cover a large area in a reasonable amount of time while absorbing research based information. Is that what we want for our students? It this the learning process? I wonder. When I consider adults seeking professional development there are several different approaches people take in pursuit of learning. Without reaching for any statistical documentation I think it’s safe to say that most teachers expect to have the learning delivered to them in the ‘guided-tour-style’ of learning as seen in museums. This is a relatively passive activity. They expect a modicum of exploration (a chance to practice and converse, socializing) and then they expect to produce a lesson based on the content.

What do children expect from a classroom? I think perhaps they expect exactly the same thing. They expect an organized, guided introduction to knowledge, a time to socialize and play with concepts and then to apply the knowledge to their seatwork in hopes of attaining good grades. Hmmm, I’m very interested in ways to give students more of a responsibility for their own learning. If I expect them to rely on me for what they know, or even on their parents then they will not have the skills to make new discoveries. What are the ways teachers turn on and turn over the learning to the students? How do teachers create the sense that anything is possible? How do we celebrate a students joy in even the smallest discoveries?

Can learning develop naturally in a contrived classroom setting? How can a classroom become an Exploratorium? Is there a way to blend more opportunities for authentic discoveries to develop among students? My favorite teacher was Miss Papora, my 7th grade science teacher. When I think about why I enjoyed her class so much, it was the excitement of making discoveries. I had the sense that every time I entered her classroom I would be given the task of making a discovery, with a lab partner and I couldn’t wait. We were on a journey of discovery.

This is exactly the feeling I get when I go onto the internet in search of new ideas, materials, and tools for teaching and learning. People ask me why am I so motivated to learn all these things on my own. Why when I don’t get any PLUs (credits) do I spend time discovering new ways of doing things? The answer is simple. I don’t want to be hindered by anyone else in my personal discovery process. I don’t want to wait for a certain date and time or for someone to tell me what to do. I do want to be given clues, encouragement and take the time to share what I’ve learned with others who are following their own paths on my own time. I love the process of discovery and it frustrates me that I still haven’t found a way to truly incorporate this process into my students’ learning. Discovery is messy, a bit chaotic and unpredictable. It can be time consuming. My mission is to add the element of discovery into each new day for my students. I am on an endless quest for new ideas. Fortunately, the world is full of them!

Maximize Your PLN

October 4, 2009

Increase the range of your Personal learning Network by finding diverse groups on the net. Chris Shambles has redesigned his site which is full of resources and ways to make new connections. He is also using Screenr to screen capture, how to sessions which will help you find what you’re looking for more efficiently. Watch and learn.
Chris Shambles talks about global learning links

Surfacing for the Moment

August 27, 2009

This is week 3 of school and I don’t think I can hold my breath any longer. I am bursting with enthusiasm for my new 3rd grade students. True the work load is something of a challenge but they make it all worthwhile.

I am valiantly trying to establish a basis for which to launch our penpal projects. Today was the perfect segue because a cooworker who taught as a volunteer in Kenya this summer visited our classroom sharing both photos and stories based on her first hand experiences. My students couldn’t wait to write.

I am still managing the school website in addition to my teaching duties and although it’s not what I would like it to be, considering my limited time, I like the direction our new admin is headed with the use of technology to communicate with parents. More about this topic and how we are saving paper, spending less and getting parent engagement.

Guess the Wordle

July 20, 2009

What is a Wordle, you ask? It’s a word cloud generator developed by Jonatahn Feinberg capable of captivating the imagination of millions. Jonathan has provided a wonderful playground for people interested in exploring imagery using any available text either copied or original. Typed or pasted words become beautifully colored landscapes in a matter of moments.

Guess the Wordle

Guess the Wordle

So what does this have to do with Guess the Wordle? The link between the two comes in the form of a creative individual who confounds the old axiom, “actions speak louder than words” by acting with words in the form of Guess the Wordle. Jen enlisted my help and together we have generated a boat load of curriculum linked content and turned them into problem solving sponges for the classroom! School is not in session at the moment, here in the USA but teachers have already started to get in on the fun of solving these Wordle riddles. There are three levels of difficulty and Jen posts then 3 times a week starting with Level 1 on Monday, Level 2 on Wednesday followed by the ultra challenging Level 3 on Friday. A Google Form is embedded below the image and you may enter your guess. Answers are posted the following day except in the case of Friday’s challenge for which you have a little more time to solve the problem. Answers are posted Monday mornings along with the new Monday Guess the Wordle.

How does this link to the classroom? As it turns out, the problem solving skills used to classify, group and align commonalities between the words in each image may help to develop or sharpen critical thinking skills in users. They also enjoy creating their own. Here’s a tip: I once used wordle to show students which words were most prominent in their persuasive essays. It was revealing.

I could go on and on but why not see for yourself. I will tell you this, Monday is easy (for adults), Tuesday is tricky but Friday, may ruin your weekend! LOL, Hopefully not, but prepare to be challenged!