Archive for August 2006

This I Believe

August 30, 2006

I believe in the power of education.  In its ability to eradicate ignorance, prejudice and poverty.  I believe in the teachers who dedicate their lives to the task of educating our young because through them our world will either flourish or flounder. 

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TEDBlog

August 26, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, one of the other ITS in my district sent me a link to this video on data management.  Honestly, when I read the synopsis of the video I thought it was going to be boring, but it was quite interesting.  The speaker is entertaining and I was specifically intrigued by his method of presentation (thanks to Jerram for the link).

 As I have had time, I have revisited TEDBlog and viewed some of the other videos.  I have found the following videos interesting and thought I would share:

Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia

Richard Baraniuk introduces Connexions

Nicholas Negroponte founder of the One Laptop per Child initiative

So far I am enjoying the site.  I am going to keep on exploring the videos and articles.  You should give it a look…

Ten Things High School Graduates Need to Know

August 23, 2006

Yesterday I expressed the desire that teachers and administrators reflect upon what they feel students of today need to know to be successful.  I referenced the SCANS report and a post by Guy Kawasaki, and I began to reflect upon the skills I think students need to have when they graduate high school (in addition to basic reading, writing and math skills).  So, here it is… the ten things I think high school graduates need to know.

  1. How to locate and manage information
  2. How to solve a problem
  3. How to work with a team
  4. How to effectively communicate both orally and written
  5. How to manage their finances
  6. How to manage their time
  7. How to use and trouble-shoot technology
  8. How to give an effective presentation
  9. How to manage conflict effectively
  10. Perserverance

So, what do you think?  What are your top ten skills?

It is Time!!

August 22, 2006

Tomorrow is the first day of school, and although I may not feel quite the excitement I did when I was a kid, I am glad to be starting back.  Although I sometimes get frustrated with our educational system, I am proud and grateful to work in America and have the chance to help educate today’s students.

As students start back to school, I hope parents, teachers and administrators will take a few moments to reflect upon what our students need to know to be successful in today’s world.  Maybe we can start by asking those in the business world what they think our graduates need to know.  This was done in the early nineties by the Department of Labor and published in the SCAN’s Report.  Maybe it is time to update the information and begin implementing the findings in the classrooms around the nation.

Guy Kawasaki posted along a similar vein about the Ten Things to Learn in School This Year (thanks to Wesley Fryer for the link).

Guy’s list includes –

  • How to talk to your boss
  • How to survive a meeting that is poorly run
  • How to run a meeting
  • How to figure out anything on your own
  • How to negotiate
  • How to have a conversation
  • How to explain things in 30 seconds
  • How to write a one-page report
  • How to write a five sentence e-mail
  • How to get along with co-workers
  • How to use PowerPoint
  • How to leave a voicemail

So, how many of the skills listed above are covered in your curriculum?  How many of the skills in the SCANS report are present in your lessons?

I also enjoyed this quote from Guy, “One last thing: the purpose of going to school is not to prepare for working but to prepare for living. Working is a part of living, and it requires these kinds of skills no matter what career you pursue.” 

When was the last time you solved an algebraic equation or discussed the elements of a story?  What about the last time you had a conversation or solved a problem?  It is something to think about.

Well, At Least Somebody Understands… :)

August 21, 2006

Right after I published my last post on Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing, I came across Wesley Fryer’s post entitled Laptops should be disruptive of traditional education

His post is in response to the same Dallas Morning News article as mine, and I must say it made me feel a little better… at least somebody else out there gets it.

Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing

August 21, 2006

I work in a school district that embraces technology – all of the high schools have laptops for their students and the elementary and middle schools have Alphasmarts, or laptops for schools who have been blessed with  a TIP grant, or at least access to computer labs and/or a few desktops in every classroom.  Sounds pretty great, huh?

Unfortunately, I also work in a state where the TAKS test directly and indirectly plays a part in just about every decision that is made by the teachers and administrators in our district.  Trying to balance technology use and standardized test scores is challenging.  Trying to convince the community, students, parents, teachers, and administrators that technology implementation is paramount even if there is no current data to illustrate that it raises test scores is even more difficult, so I can’t say I was thrilled when I read this article in the Dallas Morning News.

I would like to say that the technology implementation in Irving ISD has been easy and seamless, but it hasn’t.  It has been a struggle at times, but we have made strides and have students and teachers who do amazing things with their laptops, and we have students and teachers who have chosen to do not much constructive with their laptops; however, I think the good out weighs the bad. 

It takes time to integrate effective change, and innovative technology teachers should be given this time to explore and create without the ever present fear of the test  hanging over their heads.  But unfortunately, this is not the case.  Hopefully, these innovative students and teachers will continue to persevere and as time passes maybe the community and the media will realize that there is much more to a good education than  TAKS scores. 

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

August 21, 2006

I remember my grandmother and great grandmother reading me Grimm’s Fairy Tales when I was little.  They are one of my earliest memories of reading and helped foster my love of reading.  I still have and treasure the leather bound book my grandmothers gave me on my eleventh birthday.

I know the original versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales are somewhat dark and even a little frightening in parts, but I remember enjoying them and I think kids today would too.  I was pleased when I came across this site thanks to TechLearning.  The site offers twelve full-text “unvarnished” Grimm’s Fairy Tales as well as some audio versions.  Visit the site and take a few minutes to think back to your childhood when princesses, castles, witches and talking animals all seemed possible.