Posts Tagged ‘education’

Target Practice

October 2, 2011

“I’ve been doing lots of thinking lately, apparently storing food for thought. After reading many studies and literature reviews I wanted to explore some new perspectives and this post reflects some of my current thinking. The process of trying on new perspectives interests me. It would be helpful to me, if you have any reactions to post, respond or provide a link to related research or discussions. Enjoy!” – Kathy

For years educational institutions have been feasting on a buffet of technological innovations. Father knows best, and our national leadership and other stalwart sponsors direct the technology spending and perpetuate the feeding frenzy, all designed to improve student learning. Like a reality-show-hoarder, schools have amassed a disconnected collection of tools. A brain numbing cacophony of screeching voices from educational stakeholders hides the silent retort of teachers bristling from offense and seeking asylum inside the confines of a classroom designed to produce good citizens and workers from the last century. And where are the students in all of this? It’s time for an intervention for the dysfunctional family we regard as our broken educational system.

There have been numerous proposals purporting solutions to the problems in education. The locus of research will address the victims: teachers and students. Neither of them is responsible for purchasing or implementing technology. They simply adapt their rooms according to a plan set forth by leadership and ask the essential question: How can the use of technology improve instruction, meaningful learning and retention of knowledge? This three-pronged question reveals that something is fundamentally wrong with the current educational system’s approach to technology integration. While research supports holistic, learner-centered pedagogical approaches coupled with curriculum formulated using the understanding by design methodology, the system does not practice either of these models when adopting new technologies for school integration.

Clamoring to adopt 21st century learning standards for student achievement and driven by the need to appease the public, school systems have measured their success using student-computer ratios and standardized test results. Low ratios imply greater access to computers among students and teachers; however the quality and consistency of the available devices may be a more critical consideration.Test scores don’t seem to bear out the hallmark of success. Where can we find the truth? The tree of knowledge has become an octopus suffocating its prey with the purple haze of confusion.

In all of this, teachers must still teach and students learn. It is a wonder that despite the moon-like of technological terrain, teachers are able to navigate an obstacle course designed to entrap them. Research demonstrates that teacher beliefs about education are fundamentally tied to their pedagogy. According to Judi Harris of William and Mary (2005) there is a need to “…demonstrate pedagogically appropriate uses of technology.” Harris argues that a technocentric view of technology integration is a bias. When it is applied in the form of instruments, reporting data on the state of technology integration, the results are viewed with a lens preferring constructivist teaching methods. Harris challenges this paradigm. “As discerning educators and researchers, we should question why teacher’s roles must change to integrate technology effectively into K-12 curricula. Surely the technologies themselves do not require this shift, as current teacher-centered classroom uses demonstrate.” (pg. 119)

“I conclude with Harris’ quote because as a classroom teacher myself, it challenges me. Teachers just want to do their best for students and yet the external forces seem to prevail, creating a dysfunctional dynamic in the name of progress.” -Kathy

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Teacher can hinder learning, agreed?

April 9, 2008

Anti-Teacher

 http://www.cea-ace.ca/media/en/AntiTeaching_Spring08.pdf

Read this recently published article from Education Canada by Michael Wesch and challenge yourself to consider the possibility that teaching hinders learning.

Rivers of Communication

April 2, 2008

I live near the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. It originates as a spring in the North Georgia mountains and empties into the Gulf of Mexico in Apalachicola, Florida. I have always admired the natural beauty of the river. It offers a peaceful respite from the noisy commotion of daily life. My children know this better than most. They are rowers and have spent countless hours honing their crew skills through daily practice Tennessee River, Chattanoogawith the team. It was crew that led us to Chattanooga for weekend, a scrimmage with the Baylor School. The races were held on the Tennessee River. Looking up river at the boats with the backdrop of mountains covered by mist created an ethereal setting. I love rivers. My husband and I stayed in town for the night and we watched, Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk a 3D IMAX film. It was about river conservation ( a little preachy) but stunning scenery. Apparently climate change is only one of the many problems facing rivers. Dams are another significant problems contributing to global warming according to International Rivers, who protect the vitality of rivers and defend the people who rely on them around the world. Here is a quote from their website:

Dams as climate polluters

Scientific studies indicate that dams and reservoirs are globally significant sources of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and, in particular, methane. The latest estimate published in a peer-review journal is that dams and reservoirs are responsible for almost a quarter of all human-caused methane emissions. This 104 million tonnes of dam methane equals 4-5% of all human-caused warming.

An interesting statistic and that made me think. Atlanta is a booming area as is Los Vegas. Neither city is growing in proportion to water availability. The cities continue growing and increasing demand on a finite supply of water. Similar problems are occurring around the world. It’s like running up huge credit card debt without any way to pay repay it.

So why this sudden interest in rivers? Upon returning to Atlanta, my email contained a note from an old friend from my sophomore year at the American School of London. We’d lost touch for oh, I guess about 30 years! How amazing that the internet provides a river of information and we were able to reconnect. Dams to communication have been removed. As it happens Tim Kingston is actively involved in the International Rivers organization. He is an activist with a passion for rivers, water, the source of life!

Listening to a New Voice, Springs Alive Uganda!

March 30, 2008

It is with great pleasure I announce the new blog, Springs Alive Uganda. As many of you know I have posted several times about my friend Martin Sebuliba and his vision for peace, wellness and education for the disenfranchised children of Uganda. Martin has limited access to theSprings Alive Students internet due to the high fees charged at internet cafes and the lack of electricity and no internet signal in his rural village. I offered to set up a blogger account for him so that he and members of his community could type off-line and then simply make their posts quickly and inexpensively when convenient.

If you use the internet regularly as I do, then you will understand how time consuming it can be to try and figure out how things work, or even to do research online. By providing technical support I can be an advocate for Springs Alive and I am blessed to be able to help. Martin is working on creating a logo representative of his community and their goals which begin with the children and feed into a larger picture of a healthy, self sustaining community in the future. They will need lots of support to make this dream a reality. Track their successes and struggles by listing the Springs Alive Uganda blog on your blog roll or by subscribing to the feed. Your comments and questions will be welcomed. You will witness firsthand the hopes and dreams emanating from a small village in Africa. Tell everyone you know, you are listening a new voice!

Following XO Laptop News

January 2, 2008
I am very interested in learning how the XO is being used worldwide by children and teachers, and here at home in the USA. Here is a site promising to keep us informed, the One Laptop Per Child News. It’s very new but the posts appear to be informative and even fascinating. Read the post about ‘cow power’ in India. Very clever. Now if we could only connect all spin class bicycles to a similar device then perhaps we could produce our own green energy by the sweat of our brow. It never ceases to amaze me how much energy we Americans expend on exercise solely for personal improvement. If all of the New Years resolutions included producing green energy while working out it might motivate more people to continue throughout the year. Now that I’m way off topic, what if the cost of belonging to a gym was mitigated by the amount of energy you produced to reduce the electric bill? Just a thought.
clipped from www.olpcnews.com

Your independent source for news, information, commentary, and discussion of One Laptop Per Child’s “$100 laptop” computer, the OLPC Children’s Machine XO, developed by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte.

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Reflecting on the Need for Teacher Education

November 6, 2007

This is not a sappy soliloquy or surreptitious sermonizing on the merits of the teaching profession. Nor is it an indictment of the standards or programs designed to groom and prepare new teachers. This is just me reflecting on the path I chose to become a teacher. It should be called the long and winding road, because it brings me back to my mother’s sage advice, “you should become a teacher.” How many of us heed the wisdom of those who know us best?

After college I followed my desire to travel and became part of the business world. I traveled, trained people on new technology, sold property management systems in the UK and provided account support for the bulky computer systems we had back in the 80’s. I have always loved innovation. In the 90’s determined to keep my skills sharp and my knowledge fresh I attended Parson School of Art & Design in NYC. It was a cert only program but after 10 courses and fantastic, working-in-the-field instructors, I was very high on creating Flash sites for businesses in my local community and doing several newsletters and logos for non profits. At the same time I was an inside sales rep proffering motherboards and volunteering in the local elementary school. Two friends and I started the after school newspaper program using a basic desktop publishing. I continued it for 3 years. It was through my experience teaching these students various aspects of journalism that I became interested in teaching as a profession. I loved to see student growth and I enjoyed using creative ways to engage and challenge students to succeed.

The 2000’s came along and I moved to Atlanta with my family. I became a technology assistant in a local elementary school. I had a business degree but the school required teachers to be licensed educators. I felt like a teacher, I taught classes in the lab, I created lesson plans to integrate technology and I wondered when someone would realize that they should just make me an honorary teacher. After all, with 20 years of life experience, a college degree and a teacher’s ability to communicate why shouldn’t they just make me a teacher. I had more technology experience than most teachers ever would. It was humbling to realize that all my experience counted for nothing in the eyes of the State of GA. The same would apply anywhere else in the country and most parts of the world. Teaching is a profession and like doctoring, lawyering and psychoanalyzing requires a professional license.

No, what I needed to do was to go back to school and earn my credentials. I am nearing the end of this process and I have one profound reflection to share… you must become a student in order to become a teacher. Not profound you say? Well for me I realized that all of the books, articles and lectures I heard could be listened to or read by just about anyone who wants to shell out the money to buy expensive text books or search online. The real learning occurs through the constant evaluation/collaboration between peers and professors and in the reflection process. So for all of you who know in your heart you can teach I urge you to go the extra mile. Get your teaching certificate. The kids NEED you! The stakes are higher now than ever. No Child Left Behind insists on highly qualified teachers. I wish there had been some kind of short cut. I wish there had been some honorary degree, but the truth is I worked hard and now I have earned the real thing. We require students to jump through hoops to perform, why not us? If you have your undergraduate degree it will only take you about 2 years to complete and it is time well spent. It flies by. In fact, I may even take my education to the next level. Let’s see if I take a semester off and start next fall…I could have my PhD by… 2011?