I have been honored to serve as the keynote for the P.L.A.Y. Conference. This is my presentation about finding meaning in our work and lives.
I find myself using creative common images more and more. Creative commons is an attempt to provide online material that others can use without fear of copy right infringement. Teaching students about copyright is an import information skill. Part of the problem is that while there is a lot of work stamped creative common, there is not easy standard way for attribution. There are plenty of attempts online to address the issue but it always seems a bit awkward. My advise, do your best to attribute the work to the author and use ImageStamper. Image Stamper can provide you some evidence that the work is/was available for public use.
The purpose to homework is extending learning i.e., to build upon what a student has learned to develop a better understanding or practice skills that require time to develop. Podcasts like http://classictales.libsyn.com/ can help support students in English, on-line museums, science websites, all of these things can deepen a students understanding and spark a students interest much more than simply reading a chapter out of a book and answer the questions at the end of a chapter.
My District is having conversations regarding homework. In 21st Century Skills Bellanca and Brandt quote a MetLife survey asserting that secondary teachers assigned homework because they ran out of time in class. Last week a local paper quoted parents saying “children had been given assignments on lessons they hadn’t yet learned or that had nothing to do with what was being taught in the classroom. Others complained that they didn’t have time after getting home from work to review homework or didn’t know enough about the subject to know if the assignment is right or wrong.” As we move towards preparing students to work in the 21st century, lets make sure it’s not 21st century busy work.
I recently finished 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Student Learn edited by James Bellana and Ron Brandt. One of the chapters included an excellent presentation of how traditional cooperative learning tasks can be accomplished in an online environment by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. For example you could use google docs for collaborative writing tasks. They also provide a rubric for Internet Reciprocal Teaching where each student takes on a different role. Keeping students engaged is critical for success and it’s important to think about how successful classroom practices that keep students engaged can be used in an online environment.
What is the purpose of school? I’ve thought about this question for several years. Gene Carter suggest that it’s to prepare for the new global economy. Dewey had his purpose, Plato had his but I don’t think the purpose of school is quite that transitory that it changes from one person, one century, one epoch to another. I think school and education in general is to support people, of any age, to become self actualized. School is not where you go to do something as base as to learn a skill for someone else to exploit or a place where state nationalism is implanted. School is a place where you find, develop, and become your passion.
I always worry about teaching about “technology”. I worry that we teach a tool rather than the content. For example, when phones and televisions first appeared there were people who saw the potential to “re-invent” education with these new tools. Clearly, they would change the way we interacted with the world. We would be able to communicate with anyone anywhere and bring the world into the classroom. Sound familiar? When I first saw, Teaching kids to be ‘digital citizens’ (not just ‘digital natives’) – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post, I frowned slightly with the idea of teaching technology. Luckily however Valerie Strauss does a nice job of keeping the tool as a tool and not as a content, even if she is aiming for the latter…