Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fair to All Learners?

I read this morning

From the standpoint of a
reciprocal model of reading development, this means
that many cognitive differences observed between
readers of differing skill may in fact be consequences
of differential practice that itself resulted from early
differences in the speed of initial reading acquisition.
in What Reading does for the Mind (Cunningham. A. & Stanovich. K.E. 1997)
This article appears to imply that by making easier, shorter, & less resources available in the primary grades to less able readers, we actually do them a disservice. By lowering standards we are failing to give these learners the opportunity to fully develop their minds.
The one thing that will make citizens of our global economy viable will be the ability to think. The responsibility for learning clearly is upon the learners' shoulders not the teachers'. Educators should however provide many opportunities for encoding and decoding practice.
Are we doing this? Are we raising the bar higher to force learners to jump over? Or are we helping to 'dumb down America' by lowering expectations?
What are you going to do about it?
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Referenced: Cunningham,A.E., & Stanovich, K. E. (1997). Early reading acquisition
and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later. Developmental
Psychology, 33, 6, 934-945.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The measure of a man

Has always been intelligence, which has been measured by traditional schema of IQ, GPA, SAT, ACT, degrees, diplomas, & titles.

Futurist Andrew Zolli in a talk entitled Redefining Intelligence delivered in July 2007 at NECC delineated three trends shaping education today:

1. Changing demographics
2. Managing choice
3. Redefining intelligence

Educating today's learners to deal with these trends in their futures will ensure their success. Futuristic literature is replete with warnings that many fear economic upheaval, their abilitiy to deal with information overload, and the ever changing ways intelligence, or lack of it, is measured.
The attitudes we hold and tools we use, empathy, RSS, boolean search tools, prioritizing, time management, will become increasingly important just not for success but for survival.
Not convinced? Watch Two Million Minutes Trailer ,to which Dr. Glogowski brought my attention.
Our you thinking about this future? Are you preparing today's learners for their futures?
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Full Steam Ahead!

There is an amazing project forming. What is so amazing about it? It is a global project involving eleven classrooms in six countries with over 200 students. The sheer magnitude of this project is staggering.
If you have guessed that this is the Horizon Project 2008, you're right. This project officially begins April 14th. Right now students and teachers are getting to know each other and planning the project. One of the founders, Julie Lindsay, has a good introductory blog on the project. The other cofounder, Vicki Davis, wrote a good handshake explanation on Saturday.
I know the project does not officially begin until next month, but the momentum is incredible!

Look to the Horizon! (Davis, 2007) Great things will arise!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Enough is Enough!

This summer the Olympics are taking place in a country that is assisting genocide in another country AND in their own.
I call for a boycott! My small contribution will be to NOT watch the Olympics. I'm not an athlete (good thing or we would surely lose) so I can't refuse to participate that way. I'm not the CEO of a major funding source for the games. What I can and will do is not tune in to any tv coverage, any internet coverage, or any other media coverage of any nation that knowingly kills any group of people with whom that government does not agree. I will tell all my students of my decision and rationale. I will use online tools to tell others of my decision.
When the Nazi regime was toppled, it was widely proclaimed, "Never again." But now it is happening at least twice.
What are you going to do about it?
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Asynchronous conversations

Phil Windley podcasts ITconversations on Technometria. On February 25, he and four others got together to talk about Twitter.
It is there suggested that the conversations on twitter are asynchronous. Most conversations online are asynchronous.
This concept is not foreign to most k12 learners. They see immediately how they can leave an IM for me that I will answer later. They comment on blogs written days ago.
Adults don't seem to grasp this asynchronous nature of online conversations as well. I once commented to someone that I would search for an answer for them while they drove home and post the answer which they would receive when they opened the IM client at home. How this worked was beyond them. Younger learners don't seem to have this difficulty.
It is compelling that our conversations can be significant and asynchronous at the same time. In fact, allowing time for reflection deepens our conversations. I often ask learners to comment on conversations that resonate with them. In face to face conversations, people tend to talk over one another, interrupt one another, and change topics suddenly. In online conversations, none of these distractions need occur.
So I ask you what about the quality of your conversations?
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Thursday, March 6, 2008

8th graders speak out

Listen to 8th graders talking together about an authentic project at Teachers Teaching Teachers. These students were at home, in the evening, on their own equipment, with no one there to tell them how to join the live conversation. Yet, they did just that. Two things quickly come to my mind.

  1. This is a powerful, authentic project that was so important to 8th graders that they each found a way to join in the live webcast.
  2. If 8th graders can do it, what is our excuse?
These k12 learners express several ideas for implementation now. I would vote their government into power here in the USA. Listen and see if you agree.
Anyone who has ever been involved in a live webcast will know that one needs a bit of digital literacy. Kudos to their teachers who are obviously preparing them for their lives with 21st century skills.
A quick perusal of the chat logs reveal that students were not only talking on the show but were interacting at the same time in the chat room. This is called backchanneling and many adults find this difficult.
Please take some time to listen and check out the Many Voices for Dafur Blog and the Many Voices for Dafur Wiki. Then share this info with your students even if it is next week. This situation is that important. What are you doing about it?
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Photo on the Many Voices for Dafur Wiki at

The Last Lecture

If you haven't seen this then grab the kleenex box, navigate to the site, scroll down, and play the video.
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Slower than a dial-up

One of my most common computer complaints is it's too slow! I learned from coolcatteacher about GiFi. It will be available in 2009 (I hope), faster than WiFi, and cheaper!
University of Melbourne has developed a new wireless chip that would move data fifty times faster. The punchline is the chip costs $10 to build.
The implications....Not only will I not complain as often about speed, but consider the wireless applications that GiFi will enable for education alone! Maybe if we all complain, it will get here faster...
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Photo from yotophoto and available at

Hierarchy of web2.0?

The intersection of the hierarchy of needs and the use of web2.0 tools is an interesting one. We cannot pull people into the echo chamber (to quote Chris Lehman) if people's needs are not met. The major stumbling blocks may be at the safety and security needs level as well as at the belonging needs level.
How can those of us higher on the hierarchy make our web2.0 environment safer for newbies? How can we welcome newbies and satisfy belonging needs?
These are the big challenges this year, it seems to be just where we all are stuck. Emphasizing online safety with colleagues, parents, & younger learners is a way to meet safety needs. Welcoming others into applications like twitter, Voicethread, chatrooms, as well as one's I didn't mention, are ways to meet belonging needs.
Finding applications that are useful to each faculty person in their situation, differentiating for all learners, meets belonging needs. Are we doing good enough?
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Photo of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs available at