Sunday, January 31, 2010

Axioms We All Should Educate By...

Over the weekend was the annual Educon event in Philadelphia. Held at the Science Leadership Academy, the event aims to bring together all those with a vested interest in education for conversations and discussions about the future of schools.

I really wanted to be able to go but because I committed myself to other events this year I was not able to attend. However I was able to quietly attend virtually. Almost all sessions were available via Elluminate and I could follow discussions via the Twitter backchannel. While I was watching and listening I did get a little more depressed that I was not there in person but alas, in the end I did learn a lot and I had my thinking stretched a great deal.

One thing that caught my eye as I was exploring the Educon website was "The Axioms-Guiding Principals of Educon 2.2." After reading them I thought to myself, these are axioms that should be hanging in all classrooms and all schools across this land. What do you think?
  • Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members
  • Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen
  • Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around
  • Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
  • Learning can - and must - be networked
Why not educate by these everywhere? Classrooms and schools should be inquiry driven and they should empower all members. Schools and classrooms should promote creation, preparing students to be a member of the global collaborative. Schools and classrooms should focus on pedagogy and use technology to promote and empower it. They should not rely on technology as the education savior. But that the technology that used should allow students to research, create, communicate and collaborate. And just like educators our students should be connected to on another, both inside and outside the classroom and across the globe.

A challenge: Go into your school or classroom tomorrow or the next day and talk about these Axioms with your students. Talk about how you are going to support these and how your students can do the same.

Axioms we can all educate by for sure....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Disconnected Curriculum...

I learned early on in my career as an educator to do first then beg for forgiveness later. Then it came to a point when I just "did" in my classroom and never really needed or wanted forgiveness. Lucky for me I had an understanding administration who would let me get away with one time blowing a window out in my science classroom. (But that is another story for another time...) When it came to what my students were learning I could be really flexible with what I taught them. It all when back to what was best for my kids. While my district would tell me that Concept A was more important for them to learn, they were not teaching my kids and I felt Concept B was more important so that is what I spent more time on. And I could do that; get away with it so to say. I took the basic curriculum that is "mandated" by the state and modified it to make it work.

The focus of #edchat last night was on an overloaded curriculum. Mainly, how should curricula could be modified so there is more emphasis on actual learning and less on just memorization and "teaching to the test."

There were some very interesting things said. You can catch the archive here and a few of the summarizing thoughts here.

My fear going into this discussion was that it would be less about curriculum and more about high-stakes testing. There was some talk of this, really the conversation centered around what would the ideal curriculum look like.

Here are a few of my thoughts...

Several people talked about National Standards or a National Curriculum. That is very, very murky water. Do we really want to give all that control to some government agency what our kids are learning. How is Race To The Top or No Child Left Behind working out for you? Keep that in mind when we start talking about nationalizing our curriculum and our students. If anything we need much less government intrusion and more teacher input when talking about what our kids need to learn. Even curricula that are developed by national organizations with an educational focus should be examined thoroughly before adopted. Again, what the organization feels all kids need to learn might not be what is best for your kids.

Most states have "opinions," "mandates," "requirements," whatever you want to call them of what each kid will learn in whatever subject and/or grade level. Fine. It is what it is. We have to make sure our kids all leave school with the same basic foundations. But lets get real. I want to believe that if we eliminated all mandated curricula for all students tomorrow that some how every kid would still be successful and would still learn what they needed to be successful. Call it a character flaw or whatever, but I believe educators, regardless of what they are told to teach, will continue to teach kids to the best of their ability and will still be supported by administrators who want to see their kids and teachers be successful.

But that's just me.

Look, the truth is most curricula are misaligned and make no sense. That is when it takes the skills of a caring educator to look over their students and see what needs more attention and what needs to be left out. The writers of curricula don't know what is best for your kids. You do. So sometimes you have to go into your classroom and realize what the state or district or whom ever wants you teach just ain't going to work.

So head out there and use these curricula as a guide but not the end all be all of your classroom. If you care about what your kids are doing, you are doing formative assessments and monitoring progress you will be just fine.

Image from Flickr CC Search

New Posted Resources 01/27/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What's The Big Deal With Teacher Leadership?

I was sitting in a meeting recently about the new evaluation standards for teachers and the question was asked to the group about how they are leaders in the classroom. Keep in mind there are some awesome teachers in this group that do amazing things with kids and in the school. If anyone observed them would say they were models of teacher leadership. When asked how they modeled leadership in their classroom and/or school no one responded. Why? No one spoke up about themselves. There were plenty of examples given of other teachers in the building that exemplified leadership qualities but no one, not a soul, said anything about themselves.

So I ask? What is the big deal with being a teacher-leader? Meaning, why, when asked, are teachers so afraid to say how awesome they really are. And to go further, why, do most refuse to talk about the awesome things they are doing with kids?

We all know in our buildings and districts those amazing teachers. Those teachers that truly believe it is not about them, that it is about the kids. We identify them as teacher leaders but most would refuse the title. They believe they are doing what is best and they do it every day. My issue is why not, humbly at least, admit they are leaders. What is the problem with that?

The problem is the group I call "The Others." They are the ones in the building who see their classroom as a means of survival. It is what pays the bills and keeps them feed. They are the ones who honestly could care less about what happens to their students. We know who they are and we have to admit they exist. "The Others," unfortunately are often times the one with some power and clout in the building. They have this belief that their opinion matters and if you fall outside of what they consider acceptable, well, your time in the building may be miserable. "The Others" are often backed up by an unknown administration or an administration unwilling to see there is a problem with the culture in the school.

So because teacher leaders want to to be seen as going against "The Others" they stay silent. Yes their kids are amazing, and there are still amazing things happening in those classrooms, it rarely makes it out into the mainstream culture of the building.

Look, there is nothing wrong with awesome educating. In fact we need more teachers to stand up and talk about what they are doing. You are tooting your own horn, you are simply saying, that what you are doing is working and it might work for someone else.

No one wants to listen to someone with a huge ego. So you can't go around saying how wonderful you are and how great you are. And that isn't a leader anyway. A leader is one who inspires others. One who has vision and helps the other members of the organization reach that vision. A leader is one who listens to others and the needs of the organization and isn't afraid to make a change when things are not on the right path. Leaders are reflective.

We need to encourage those around us who are these teacher-leaders to stand up and not be silent when asked how they are leaders. Of course we want them to point to others, but lets get them to start pointing at themselves. It's not about ego, it's about kids. And kids deserve the best teacher leaders in their classrooms.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Possibilities...

I once had a student that no one would teach. I mean no one. He was passed around from teacher to teacher with every explanation under the sun as to why he was "unteachable." He was a bad kid. He had uninvolved parents. He wasn't that bright. The excuses went on and on and on. I volunteered to take him. Not because I am a saint or was looking to "save" him but I felt bad for him. Kids in Middle School are fragile enough. I didn't want to think of the psychological damage these teachers were doing to him, passing him around. He needed a home and me and my teachers were willing to provide it for him.

We had a rough couple of weeks. I saw what some would consider "bad behavior." He would say something or do something so that attention was on him. One day I had him stay after school and talk to me. I asked him what was up. He wanted to play sports in school but was never allowed because he was a marked man in terms of his behavior. He opened up to me and said he was tired of everyone telling him what to do. He wanted to make his own choices and decisions. I asked if we was ready to be grown (as we say in the South). He said no, but he did think he was old enough to decide things on his own. So it was decided. He would be in charge of what we were doing in class that week. We were studying cells at the time. It was up to him to decide how he would get all the required information and how he would present it to the class. I would have no say in the matter. Of course, the other students had the same options as him and we let it last a week.

He took to that assignment like nothing he had ever done before. He was able to get the information his way. And learn it his way. (Of course we had to make sure he, and the rest of the class, were getting the correct information.) And best of all he presented it, his way. I saw one of the coolest dance and song routines I have quite possibly ever seen. Looking back, I regret I never videoed it but trust me, it was brilliant!

Student ownership of learning was the topic for last night's #edchat. And what an interesting discussion. You can read the entire archive here and see some of the feedback here.

Really, what is student ownership of learning? Is it the story I told here? Maybe. My student did take the main idea of cells and find the information on his own, organize it on his own, and find a way to present the information. So he had ownership over that assignment, but over his leaning? I am not so sure. When he went on to the next group of teachers next year, would he have the same opportunities? Doubtful. And then where would he be? Back to square one. So while I provided for him some great chance to learn on his own did I really teach him the value of ownership of his learning?

Kelly Hines, an educator whom I most admire, said something, I believe, was very profound.

"I think ownership is a noble intention but one that often eludes us when the madness of daily life overwhelms us."

Wow! Kelly is so right. While we want to teach our kids the value of taking ownership of their learning, most times the hussle and bussle of the classroom gets in the way. Yes, just like me, we try to provide authentic learning experiences for our students but do we really, teach them how to take ownership of their learning. We hope they "get it" but often times it is not until late in their education, either in high school or even college that they understand why and how to do it. And even then, do we really ever, truly master the art of ownership of learning?

As educators we should strive everyday to provide real-world, authentic learning experiences. But we should also be stressing and modeling what it means to take ownership of our learning. And maybe, just maybe, the kids will start to learn that they have the power and are powerful enough to take ownership of their learning. And maybe, just maybe, they will rise up and rebel and take down this system of education we have in place today and say that it's not working for them and not meeting their needs. And maybe, just maybe, they will design their own system of learning that will revolutionize education as we know it...

Ahh..the possibilities...

Image from Flickr CC Search. View the original here.

New Posted Resources 01/20/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Old and The New...

I recently changed jobs. I went from being the Instructional Technologist for a district of 19 schools to the Instructional Technologist at 1 school in a larger district, much closer to home. It was a tough decision for me. The people in my former district are great. They really care about kids and love what they do. They also take care of each other...

Before I left there was a small gathering of the media and technology folks in the district. A couple of the people there took me aside and said they had a going away gift for me.
Now, I told everyone that I did not want anything, nor needed anything but these people remembered something I said when I first started working.

I am a collector of technology. Ask my wife. She hates it. Any chance I get to get some old piece of equipment I take it! I have tons of old CPU's and laptops a reel-to reel film projectors, old school film strips...if it was a piece of technology that was once in a school I probably have it. Some of it works, others, not so much. I dunno why I have it. I just feel a connection to it and can't see it cast aside.

But there was always one thing missing from my collection. I so wanted an Apple IIe. This was the computer I grew up on, learning and playing games on as a kid in school. I can remember entire summers spent in front of that massive, lead-based monitor, making my way from Missouri to Oregon while tying to not die from dysentery. Having an Apple IIe would almost make my collection complete....almost...but it would do wonders for me!

These teachers remembered me talking about all this 2 years ago. I never spoke of it again. But they remembered. One of the teachers had an Apple IIe in her classroom that she gave to me with tons of software, including my all time favorite, Oregon Trail. I just about fainted. It was one of the best gifts I have ever gotten.

But could I accept this? This teacher had several in her classroom that her 4th graders used everyday. She had the regular issue workstations and an IWB and laptops in her classroom. But there was something about those Apples that they were still a big part of her teaching and her classroom. I did not want to take one but she assured me it would be find and she wanted me to have it.

Bringing it home and setting it brought back so many memories for me. The flash of the monitor and the not so quiet grind of the floppy drive made me think of when I was in school. I just sat for a moment and remembered....

Then I got to thinking. Do we sometimes use a piece of technology because it is the latest and the greatest? Or are we making the best choices for our kids because they are the best choices? This teacher saw the value in using technology from the 80's because it still had value both to her and her kids. They loved it. These are kids who go home and play on their Wii's and their cellphones probably have more memory than those Apples!

Are we installing IWB's all over the place because it is the right thing to do? Are we installing IWB's because of their flash value or do they really make true change? Or have we looked around to see if there something else out there that is better and or cheaper?

My point is sometimes old isn't necessarily bad. Of course there are better choices than a chalk board and an overhead. What I mean is that we need to be mindful of the technology choices we are making for our kids and our schools. Yea, sometimes the latest and greatest is just that. But sometimes the Apple IIe will do just fine.

Image from Flickr CC Search. View the original here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Have A Social Media Policy Anyway? Take 2

I originally wrote this post in Sept. 2009. Since then I have done a lot of thinking about and talking about social media policy. I repost it now because we are heading into that time of year when people are starting to ask me and the rest of the members of their PLN's about their best example of social media policies. Districts and district leaders are beginning to see how teachers are using blogs, wikis, Twitter and other tools to create really awesome classrooms and they are scared. Not that there is actual learning going on but what if a parent doesn't like all this? So they are meeting, often times behind closed doors, to draft draconian policies that they say encourage use of these tools but in reality limit their use. My question is why have a policy in the first place?

I have spent a lot of time lately blogging, talking and thinking about Social Media in the classroom. Whether it was trying to provide resources for getting the school year started off right with Social Media or providing you with tips for Social Media Leadership in schools. I really do believe that we are seeing (and some of us a part of) a revolution in education. For too long we have been teaching 21st Century Students with 19th Century methods. And maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to change our thinking about how this thing called "social networking" can be used to educate.

All of this talk about using blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, Nings, and others in the classroom always leads to a discussion on policy. People ask me about examples of good Social Media Policies. What they don't like to hear is that I don't have one. Ok, well, that is not entirely true. I do have examples of school policies that mention Social Media and Social Networking. Here are a few examples:

East Lothian Council Self-publishing and Social Media Guidelines: Pupils
Arapahoe High School Blogging Policy
Laramie County School District 2 - Safe Blogging Policy

Those are some well-crafted policies as it pertains to blogging and Social Media in general. But, when someone asks me about my best example of a Social Media Policy I have to say that, I believe the best policy is probably one you already have in place.

Why is there such a push by school districts to rush and have a policy in place for teachers and students? Look at what the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) did. Over the summer they redrafted their email policy which said, in a nutshell, that all communications with students had to be done through official CPS email accounts. Basically, the policy outlawed blogs, wikis, Twitter, etc, which was odd because a week earlier CPS was all over the media explaining how they were going to leverage the power of Twitter to keep the community updated. They have retracted a bit and are going to examine the policy to make more Social Media sited available.

My point here is that CPS and other districts around the country are knee-jerking and realizing they don't have a blogging policy, or a Twitter policy, so they create the blanket policies that, while hoping to give the appearance of openness in education and progressiveness, actually limit a teachers ability to use New Media in their classroom.

Most schools (because they have to) have an Acceptable Use Policy that covers general computer and Internet use. If schools and teachers are are doing a good job of teaching their students about responsible Internet use why create a whole new policy that just prevents progress? Often times I have seen no one really knows who is responsible to teach. Is it the classroom teachers or media coordinators or instructional technologist? Truthfully, we all know (or at least we should know) that all of us are responsible.

How do you teach kids responsible Internet use? There are several free curricula available. Here are a few examples:

Digital Citizenship Curriculum
Digital Literacy
A Digital Literacy Curriculum from Microsoft
Technology Literacy Curriculum

Curriculums are great, but they are no good with out communication. We have to start conversations with our students, teachers, parents and the community about what we are doing and why we are doing it. If we are going to be using blogs in the classroom, have your parents in, with the students and explain why. Letters are great, but we know face-to-face is better. If you want to have a classroom Twitter feed or use it in some other way. Explain. The only way we are going to get all parties involved on board is to talk about it. And when you are talking about a blog or a class wiki or Twitter feed we can begin to have conversations about how we are keeping kids safe and how we are teaching kids to stay safe. If we are having these conversations and educating all involved then what is the point in having a policy?

I get asked all the time about my districts' Social Media Policy. You will be disappointed to know that we don't have one. Not because we haven't thought about it. We have spent a lot of time discussing what would work best for our kids and our teachers. We decided that what we have in place works. But it works because we spend a lot of time talking about responsible Internet usage. In my mind why limit a teacher use of Social Media or punish a student for an inappropriate comment on a blog (which should be moderated by a teachers anyway). Take the time to educate!

If you are a school leader, principal or administrator in district that is considering a Social Media policy, I encourage you to look at the computer usage policies you have in place and examine how you are teaching your students Digital Responsibility.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beginning At The End...

We have a problem in realm of edtech. I am guilty of it and chances are you have been too at some point. You and I are not guilty of it all the time and truthfully, it may have only happened once or twice but it is a constant problem and it is time we deal with it.

There are so many cool tools out there. This blog looks at just a handful available. My Twitter stream provides more, but still, it is just the tip of the iceberg when we are talking about the tools available to teachers. However, much too often do I witness ill-planned professional development centered around tools, when really, they should be centered around student learning.

Last night on #edchat the discussion was about Tech Tools and Student Learning Goals. Specifically, how do we ensure specific technology tools match student learning goals? What needs to be in place for this to happen successfully?

Full Disclosure-Normally I am a moderator and active participant in the weekly #edchat. However over the next 4 months I will be taking a Leadership class that meets on Tuesday nights. So the reflections here are a combination of reading the archive and my personal thoughts, for what thats worth...

Most teachers have experienced a Professional Development session centered around a piece of technology. Some of these sessions we might describe as amazing; they truly had an impact on your teaching and your classroom and really made a difference.

Some of these sessions, however, we might describe as forgettable. Either we were not interested or, moreover, they were not interesting. One of my most forgettable workshops was on Excel. As a science teacher Excel fits in perfect with data capture and analysis. The mathematical functions and graphing features make it perfect for most types of scientific research. I am by no means an Excel expert but I know just enough to keep me out of trouble. In essence I am not an Excel newbie. So I signed up for a class that I thought would show me more power moves I could use with kids and really extend their learning. What I got was how to open a new spreadsheet. What is a cell. What is a row. What is a column. The true basics.

It was obvious this workshop was not going to meet my learning needs so I left. Kids, don't really have that choice. I suppose they could choose to leave but there are other know that's a whole other post all together. The point is we have to be mindful of what the needs of our kids are when designing instruction.

So there are two parts to that design when we are talking about incorporating technology. First, those of us who have made a career out of teaching educators how to use technology effectively in the classroom have to do our research. We have to understand curriculum and what exactly our teachers are teaching. We have to present our ideas and tools in the form of learning goals. Meaning, we have to present them in such a way that they always relate back to what we want our students to ultimately learn. Very rarely do we want our students to learn how to just use a particular tool. So we should not present them to our teachers that way.

Second, those of us who have made a career out of educating kids need to make sure we are designing our lessons with a goal in mind. I am not talking about silly state or national standards, because in the long run, in my opinion, they are useless (but that is for another conversation.) I mean, you need to understand what your kids don't and design effective lessons to meet their needs. That lesson may or may not involve tech. If it does, great. Then spend the time on the learning objective, not the tool. Remember, a pencil is a tool and we don't spend a great deal of time teaching how to use it. But we use the tool to accomplish some learning. (Hopefully)

Bottom line. When dealing with tech, learning how to use the tool is important. But we need to make sure we are learning and using the tools in the context of real goals. It does no good to conduct/sit in workshop after workshop learning how to use tools with no, clear learning goals in mind. The conversations must start with the end in mind. Where do we want to be when this is all over? Only after we decide that can we even begin to discuss how we will get there.

New Posted Resources 01/13/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Give It A Ponder...Think Before You Text

There is a really awesome ad campaign out from LG about texting. Aimed at teens, James Lipton (of Inside The Actors Studio fame) asks to "Give It A Ponder" before texting or sending that racy picture. Some of the best information is in the videos. Here is one of my favorites:

Obviously, not for little kids but the message it clear. We really need to be teaching teens to think before they text and post.

Also on the site are links to definitions of cyber-bullying, a Facebook fan page to tell your story, the Twitter feed and more videos.

I would like to see more resources for teachers and kids but this stuff is really good. The humor really speaks to kids and might actually make them think the next time they want to text something stupid.

So grab your beard and head over to Give It A Ponder to see for yourself.

New Posted Resources 01/08/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interactive Whiteboards-Sage On The Stage?

Over the past few weeks I have seen and been part of an ongoing discussion, on Twitter, on Interactive Whiteboards and their place in the classroom. It's a topic that is near and dear to my heart as I have been a trainer and advocate for use of these devices in the classroom. However, since I have had the roll of trainer and had the opportunity to visit several 100 classrooms where these devices are used I have begun to grow skeptical.

Last night on #edchat, the topic centered around the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) and if that use translates to an interactive classroom. As always, it was a very fast-paced, insightful discussion. Here is just a little of what participants had to say:
  • I think that IWBs are useful tools but they do not promote wide interactivity. Conversely they discourage it by making one person the center of all focus. -A Teacher
  • Like anything an IWB can be an amazing tool or just another piece of furniture. It is about the students interacting with each other and the teacher which hopefully the IWB can help facilitate that matters. -A School Library Media Specialist
  • It all comes down to how teachers use them in their classroom. As I have seen, most teachers don't plan around their IWB. They just use it as an aid to deliver the content. If used properly, planning would revolve around the IWB and all that it can do. It can make teaching much easier, however many teachers are afraid that it will take too much time. -An Instructional Technologist
  • They are a tool. If used well, they are as good as a tool can be (useful for a specific task). But I see a lot of crappy digital chalk & talk. In my opinion, the IWB is not worth the money. If I had a choice, I wouldn't want one in my class. I'd take a projector, a laptop, and a document camera. Class set of laptops would be ideal to have too!) -Other District Leader
  • I think digital whiteboards are great for the classroom. They challenge us to apporach lessons in a new way. Instead doing the same old thing you can strech your lesson to incorporate images, documents, maps, video and so much more. And I'm not only presenting but, kids are coming up and interacting with materials, testing theories and teaching their classmates at the same time. -A Teacher
  • The teacher gives the board "life" not the technology. -A Teacher
You can read the rest of the comments here and the archive here. (I really encourage you to check out the comments and the archive. There are some really great comments in both.)

Here are some of my thoughts...

When I was in the classroom my school had 3 IWBs that had never been used before I got there. I had used one in my student teaching and really enjoyed using it and teaching with it. When I discovered there were IWBs in my school that no one used I took one and set it up in my classroom. I used it everyday. I had success with kids who, when not being used, were disengaged. They would come up to the board, manipulate something and sit down. I felt like I was doing good with my kids, that my kids were really interacting with what I was teaching.

It wasn't until I stepped out of the role of the teacher and into the role of the trainer and integrator that I saw the complete opposite. I have seen teachers who, just like me, feel like they are creating interactive classrooms because one kid at a time is using the board. Or moreover, they (the teacher) is using it to facilitate a lesson. After visiting many, many classrooms like this and reflecting on my own classroom it dawned on me. While I was interacting with one kid at a time I did not have an interactive classroom. I had an interactive kid but not an interactive classroom.

I believe IWBs are viable tools for the classroom. They do get kids up and moving and manipulating. They allow some really creative content to be presented and created. However, they are still teacher-centered devices. Even when a kids or kids are using them, it is only that kid or kids who are using them. Its not everyone, which would be an interactive classroom. I would have an IWB as part of a center but not be the center of a classroom as they are in a lot of places.

Now, some would argue for the tablets or slates that connect with these IWBs.That is still one kid at a time manipulating and interacting. Some even would argue for the polling devices. Honestly, can we really say that polling is interacting? Ok so a kid might care for 5 seconds to punch in an answer but then go back to non-interaction. And how many times do we give a poll in a class?

My point is, schools and districts have sunk so much money into a device that may or may not work. But it sure does look pretty on the wall. And it sure does look awesome and sound awesome when you can say every class has an IWB. Take some of that money, time, effort and training and invest it in to devices and products that are interactive. Laptops, Netbooks, Document Cameras, Flip Video, anything that gets all kids using technology and interacting with technology, together. After all, its not about if our classrooms or schools look good. It's about whether or not we do what's best for all our kids.

New Posted Resources 01/06/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stand Up And Be Heard...

It all started this morning with some questions posed by one of the educators I admire most, Bill Ferriter (@plugusin).

To which I replied

To which he replied

There are two things going on in this conversation. The first point Bill raises about "Essential Standards" is one that we need to be questioning. Here in North Carolina it seems as if our curriculum change about every 3-5 years. When I was teaching Science we had radical changes among all the grade levels twice in no less than 5 years. The same was true for math and other areas as well. These are the standards our state feels that our kids need to know. But the point Bill raises is very, very valid. If these are Essential, why are they changing? Should they not be the same year after year after year? Curriculum can change. They have to in order to keep up with changes in history, science, technology, etc. The problem in many states and in this country as a whole is that we have blurred the lines between curriculum and essential standards.

The other point Bill raises is the one that bothers me the most. It is never our job to make any one listen. We can't. Just like we can't make teachers use tech in the classroom we can't make the "powers that be" listen. But, we have to care when they don't get it right. We have a duty to our profession and to our students to hold administrators, Superintendents, School Boards, and law makers accountable for the actions and decisions they make regarding our classrooms. We do our students a great disservice the moment we quit shouting. We have to go to board meetings and stand up and speak. We have to write and call law makers and let them know how we feel, give them first hand examples of how their decisions are impacting kids. Perhaps they will listen then. Or maybe they will listen to the voice in the voting booth. Either way, we have to continue to make our voice heard. And more importantly everyone, needs to hear the voices of our kids. After all, thats what it's all about...

New Posted Resources 01/05/2010

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.