Find Your Blank Canvas

blank-canvas

 

Have you ever sat through a bad presentation? Me too. But I never realized how serious of a problem it was until one day in 2008. It was a Wednesday in fact. A cold January Wednesday in the winter of 2008 when I took 112 seventh graders to the computer lab to work on presentations. As a teacher, I thought I was being creative. I thought I was being innovative. I thought I was empowering students. I thought I was fostering creativity. Until two days later, when back in the classroom, I watched 112 seventh graders click through their slides and read every one of them word for word. That’s when I realized how serious this problem truly was. That’s when I realized we were creating another generation of bad presenters.

Continue reading

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I Quit Assigning Homework… Too Many Dogs Were Eating It

IMG_1007 - Version 2

 

Many years ago I quit assigning homework. Too many dogs were eating it and I didn’t feel it was my job to feed the neighborhood pet population. From time to time I reconsider the impact of homework. While not everyone will agree with me, I feel the role of the homework boils down to two essential questions:

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Dying of Dysentery in a One Computer Classroom

oregon-trail-game

 

As a fourth grader, I patiently suffered through many monotonous school days eagerly awaiting my turn to journey back to the pioneer times of the mid-nineteenth century. Loading up my virtual conestoga wagon, I led four fictitious settlers on an adventure across one of America’s most storied routes – the Oregon Trail. Even though I typically died of dysentery within ten minutes, I learned two very valuable lessons:

Never drink dirty water.

One device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc) can impact a classroom.

It would be great if every classroom was a one to one learning environment or at least had a class set of computers or mobile devices, but until that day arrives, we are left to use the technology we do have to our advantage.

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

PowerPoint and Other Stone Age Tools

 

pile-of-rock

Stone Age societies lived and operated completely independent of other existing civilizations, but five thousand years later, our students should not still be living and learning that way. Our students need to be hunter and gatherers of a different sort, hunting for information and gathering tools that allow them to meaningfully interact with the curriculum. Yet, many popular digital resources have been around since the 1990s, and in terms of educational technology, that might as well be the Stone Age. The technology our students use needs to evolve with their abilities, expertise, and overall proficiency. We need to be preparing students for the next levels of learning with technology. We need to be preparing our students for the Bronze and Iron Ages – not a second Stone Age.

Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Kids Don’t Know Everything

 

In the Spring of 2012, every eighth grade student in the state of South Carolina took a technology proficiency assessment based on ISTE’s NETS standards. Only thirty-five percent of those students were identified as proficient (earning a score of seventy percent or higher). The results of this assessment show children are vastly deficient in technology proficiency; yet most children seem pretty comfortable with today’s digital tools. Additionally, adults seem fairly confident in the ability of children to master technology as well. Our students can bypass protective filters and turn screens sideways or upside down when a teacher isn’t looking, but that doesn’t mean they know how to effectively use emerging technologies to enhance their learning environment.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Empty Rhetoric and Other Sources of Inspiration

Image

Every school district and academic campus has one. Every business and place of employment does too. Some organizations are fiercely dedicated to it, while other groups don’t even know what it is. It may only be a bunch of a words, but a great mission statement can be a powerful thing. While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, sometimes a little bit of empty rhetoric can be a valuable source of inspiration.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stop Telling Kids to Change the World

Parents, teachers, and President Obama like to remind children of their ability to “change the world”. Kids are definitely capable of leaving their mark on the world – for good or bad.  Young people are on a quest to understand the world and their place in it. On that journey, ambition and passion are powerful forces, but without meaning or a sense of purpose their efforts can be severely misguided. Passion feeds ambition, but it’s that sense of purpose that guides young people to make a positive impact on their world.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized