Search this site
Other stuff

Follow me on Twitter at:

@BlueSkunkBlog

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

Locations of visitors to this page

My latest book:

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Fan Page on Facebook

 

Must-read K-12 IT Blog
EdTech's Must-Read K-12 IT Blogs 

 

Teach.com

 

 

 


Monday
Feb112008

CODE77 rubrics 2008

One of the most interesting and perhaps important questions I have been trying to answer for the past 15 years or so is -

What should a "technologically-literate" teacher know and be able to do?

I always believed it was patently unfair to ask teachers to become "computer-literate" and then not be able to describe what that means in fairly specific terms. Since I was one the people advocating for computer literate teachers back in the early 90s, I wrote a set of rubrics for our district - the Beginning CODE 77 rubrics. These later became the backbone for my book, The Indispensable Teacher's Guide to Computer Skills published in 1998. I also wrote two additional sets of rubrics - Internet rubrics and advanced rubrics in the mid 90s.

I revised all these rubrics in 2002 to bring them into alignment with the ISTE NETS for Teachers standards and to reflect changes in technology at that time. I also added a set of leadership rubrics for the second edition of The Indispensable Teacher's Guide in 2002.

Guess what? The 2002 rubrics are looking pretty dusty. I used them in a workshop last month and asked participants what things teachers now need to know about and be able to do that weren't reflected in the 2002 rubrics. Here is just a partial list: 

  • Interactive white boards
  • Audio systems
  • Podcasting
  • Web 2.0 - wikis, blogs, social networking, RSS, media sharing
  • Safety
  • Video streaming - online content
  • Graphic tools for planning and brain storming
  • Webquests
  • Online learning environments
  • Distance learning
  • Virtual worlds

So, over the next few weeks (or months - whatever), I am going to be using the Blue Skunk to get feedback on an updated set of CODE 77 rubrics. I will be looking at just one rubric at a time, beginning with each of the beginning rubrics then moving to the Internet rubrics, advanced rubrics and leadership rubrics. I'll categorize each entry as CODE77 and rubrics. We'll also discuss whether some additional rubrics need to be added or if some can be dropped.

I have defined each set as follows:

Beginning: These rubrics primarily address professional productivity. They are the foundation on which more complex technology and technology-related professional skills are built. Teachers who have mastered these skills are able to use the computer to improve their traditional instructional tasks such as writing, record-keeping, designing student materials, and presenting lessons. These skills also build the confidence teachers need to use technology to restructure the educational process.

Advanced: These rubrics below are designed to help teachers move to a second (and final?) level of professional computer use. Rather than the computer simply being a tool which allows a common task to be done more efficiently, these skills fundamentally change how instruction is delivered, how student performance is measured, and how teachers view themselves as professionals. The technology is used to actually restructure the educational process to allow it to do things it has never been able to do before.  

Internet: These rubrics focus on using the Internet skillfully and purposely for educational purposes.

Leadership:  These rubrics are designed to help superintendents, principals and directors determine how well they use technology to improve administrative effectiveness through efficient communication, planning, and record keeping.

Looking forward to reading your ideas for improvements. 

 

Sunday
Feb102008

Manifestos from Change This

We don’t believe humans evolved to be so bad at making decisions, so poor at changing our minds, so violent in arguing our point of view. - ChangeThis

The name Michael Pollan caught my eye in the body of an e-mail I received sometime last week. I'd heard he'd written a new book that continued his exploration of plants and food in The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma, both which I enjoyed very much. Following the e-mail link took me to the ChangeThis website where a long list of "manifestos" can be downloaded. I read several this weekend including:

An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollen. Snippets: 

... the “What to eat” question is somewhat complicated for us than it is for, say, cows. Yet for most of human history, humans have navigated the question without expert advice. To guide us we had, instead, Culture, which, at least when it comes to food, is really just a fancy word for your mother. What to eat, how much of it to eat, what order in which to eat it, with what and when and with whom em.jpghave for most of human history been a set of questions long settled and passed down from parents to children without a lot of controversy or fuss.

But over the last several decades, mom lost much of her authority over the dinner menu, ceding it to scientists and food marketers (often an unhealthy alliance of the two) and, to a lesser extent, to the government, with its ever-shifting dietary guidelines, food-labeling rules, and perplexing pyramids. Think about it: Most of us no longer eat what our mothers ate as children or, for that matter, what our mothers fed us as children. This is, historically speaking, an unusual state of affairs.

 We are becoming a nation of orthorexics: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

 

Free Your Ass and Your Mind Will Follow: Embodied Leadership by Jamie Wheal. Snippets: 

When cocksure consultants come into your organization and start talking about Essential Qualities of Leaders—as likely freeyour.jpgas not, they ground them in physical metaphors like “Balance,” “Flexibility,” “Resilience” and “Vision”. But honestly, how many of today’s overworked, under-rested, out of shape leaders do you know who can even touch their toes? And how are they supposed to communicate these vital qualities to their teams if they can’t even locate them in their own bodies? 

Psychologist Carol Dweck (formerly at Columbia, now at Stanford) has unearthed a fascinating correlation between this “talent mindset” and a more open-ended “growth mindset”—both with real impact on how leaders themselves learn and how companies hire and motivate. According to Dweck’s findings, about half of us attribute our success and failure to our innate or fixed talents while the other half chalk our wins and losses up to effort. But authority figures can shift people from one mindset to another with as little as a few words based on whether they praise hard work and effort, or fixed skill and talent. In one particularly stark example, students praised for their ability (e.g. “you’re smart”) rather than
their effort (e.g. “you worked hard”) responded by:

  • Avoiding future assignments they knew to be more challenging
  • Performing worse over time in both absolute and relative scores (compared to classmates 
  • in the Growth Mindset)
  • Inflating their scores to other students to further protect their self-images

 
Ideaicide: How to Avoid It and Get What You Want by Alan Parr and Karen Ansbaugh. Snippets:

How you present an idea is of paramount importance to its success. More often than not, if you don’t use the right words and images, you won’t set the foundation for the rest of the conversation to follow. You need to present your idea through concrete images, associations and stories that are within people’s comfort zones. a little “wow” factor helps, too.

ideacide.jpgIn describing something new, something beyond most people’s vision, you need to create a mental map for them to follow you and your idea to its successful conclusion. The art of making a mental map is to hook your audience with what they know and then explain what they don’t know. Start with a construct that everyone is familiar with and add to it.

So how do you create a construct for something that people have never come across before? Make up a new word. The title of this manifesto, “Ideaicide,” is a fine example. It cuts through the clutter and gives everyone a new word that they can agree on. If we called it “Innovation,” we would find that a lot of people have their own notions of what innovation means.

...

Helping people to create mental maps and shortcuts through clever word use allows everyone to be on the same page when you get to the heart of your idea. Illustrated metaphors help people grasp and retain your idea. a little razzle-dazzle makes them pay attention. When you buy something, doesn't the packaging play a role in piquing your interest?

There are dozens of these short documents at the ChangeThis site, ranging from Jessica Hage's collection of Hugh McLeod-like sketches called Indexing a Career to the more traditional Tom Peter's 100 Ways to Help You Succeed/Make Money. (With! All! His! Typical! Exclamation! Points!)

ChangeThis has been around since 2004 (according to their website) and looks like a means of authors and consultants to introduce their work to the business world.  Fun and rewarding reading - and the price is right!

Saturday
Feb092008

What shape are your packets in?

A common reason often given by school technology departments for blocking a particular Internet resource is that it uses too much bandwidth. YouTube, Google Video and Images, and iTunes are among those sites often singled out.

If any district in Minnesota needs to conserve bandwidth, it is probably ours. Mankato's 7000 students and 1000 staff all share a paltry 14MG pipe from the district's WAN to the Internet cloud. And we use our connection pretty hard. When the Internet is slow, we do hear about it.

Just a fair warning here, I will be speaking somewhere between 5 and 50 miles outside my areas of expertise. As my IT manager likes to remind me - "Your role in the department is pointy-haired boss, remember?" So, caveat lector.

packeteersmall.jpgWe installed a packet shaper on our network last year. What our packet shaper (or traffic shaper or layer seven switch) allows us to do is prioritize traffic on our network. We can tell the network to allow some websites or some Internet protocols "to go first" and delay other websites and protocols. Until last week, this seems to have made only a small difference.

But the degree to which we can specify what traffic has priority became more granular with a recent software release. We can now give YouTube (not all Flash) a "Priority 0" rating. The yearbook people can use Flash to do their pages unimpeded; middle school kids can look for videos of fart lighting on YouTube with what bandwidth is left over. (Click on the small image at the left to see a larger version of the control module screen shot.) This has made a big difference.

So, if your district is blocking valuable educational resources because of bandwidth limitations think about using a packet shaper.  (Since people will ask, we paid about $15K for ours in a consortium purchase.)

I'm thinking of changing our department's mission statement to: Providing solutions to problems that you didn't have before there was technology. Like it?

htmlflash.jpg