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Sunday
Sep232007

What's on your bookshelf?

Ethan Bodnar in his entry "Your Bookshelf, Your Identity," challenges us to photograph our bookshelves and post the photos to Flickr. (He suggests some fairly stringent rules.) I don't do Flickr, so I'm just posting mine here. I suppose had I taken a couple minutes, I could have put out some more intellectual-type titles. (It was fun seeing Carolyn's, Diane's and Tim's bookshelves as well.)

bedsidepile.jpg

The bedside pile. Gives lie to my Lazy Person's Reading Plan, eh? One title hard to see is Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You. The Gruber book is quality fiction. And yes, I am still working through the Second Life guide.

 officepile.jpg
The home office reads. The usual suspects about technology and education.

homelibrary.jpg

And the home library in a lower level hallway - 1/2 of which belongs to the LWW. When the cases get full, I start getting rid of books.

Oh, booklovers, take a look at BOOKS TOOLBOX: 50+ Sites for Book Lovers. A great list of tools for tracking and sharing one's reading and personal library (or libraries). (Via Stephen's Lighthouse)

Saturday
Sep222007

Give a teacher a computer

With apologies to author Laura Numeroff and illustrator Felicia Bond. The LWW brought home Mouse Cookies & More: Acookie.jpg Treasury this weekend and it started me thinking...

Give a teacher a computer

Give a teacher a computer,
    And he will want Internet access.

Give a teacher Internet access,
     And she'll most likely want an e-mail account.

Give a teacher e-mail,
    And he'll just want learning games and
more computers in her classroom. And tech support.

Give a teacher learning games,
    And she'll want streaming video.

Give a teacher videos,
    And he'll insist on an LCD projector permanently mounted in his classroom (with speakers).

Give a teacher a projector,
    And she'll ask for an interactive white board (and training and time for collaboration and resources to use with it).

Give a teacher an IWB,
    Then he wants a student response system, a wireless slate, and a document camera (and more support).

Give a teacher tech,
    And then she wants all her kids to have it too. And the skills to use it well.

We'll that's the theory anyway and it holds for lots of my teachers. I always find it amazing (and even a little frustrating) that some teachers can't get enough technology in their classrooms and give their kids enough experiences using it, while other teachers still grumble at even having to use anything more complicated than an overhead projector. And I don't think it breaks down neatly along generational lines. Perhaps those who are reluctant were frightened by a vacuum cleaner as small children.

_______________

As an aside, this comes from a travel advice column in this morning's Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper when the author comments on the actions taken by a person whose hotel reservations were lost:

I think you handled this grievance pretty well. Call the hotel was an excellent idea, and so was following up with Expedia. But you should have pinged Hyatt again...

Pinged?  First time I've seen this geeky word move from technical to general use. According to WIkipedia, the fellow who wrote the first Ping program back in '83 took the term from the sound sonar makes and only later was the acronym "Packet InterNet Grouper" devised. More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

If you'll excuse me, I think I'll get the telephone and go ping my kids... 

 

Friday
Sep212007

For your weekend reading pleasure

"There is a growing body of research that documents the effect of a strong school library program on student achievement, and we need the data on staffing, size and age of collections, and budgets spent on resources to get a picture of a strong program that makes a difference for students." AASL President, Sara Kelly Johns.cat_reading_newspaper.jpg

The above quote comes from the eSchool News article School library research makes the case for more targeted support, September 18, 2007. The results aren't as interesting as the interpretation of the results of the first national survey on school library media programs. But I guess that is always the case... The article is worth reading, but the full report won't be released until AASL in October.

A few other recently published papers:

Do Our Students Measure Up? How to Define and Assess Student Technology Proficiency. Technology & Learning. Yes, it is basically a 25 page advertisement for Learning.com's online assessment tool, but it raises some interesting questions about how to assess student tech proficiency. (Here is another approach to tech skill assessment.)

Reading Revisited: Evaluating the Usability of Digital Display Surfaces for Active Reading Tasks. Microsoft, October 2007. Sort of an oblique look at why paper is still the reading medium of choice. Cutting to the chase: Although digital systems have improved their support for active reading in the last ten years, there is still room for improvement. Yup. I was surprised digital ink (which does not require constant screen refreshes and is easier on the eyes) was not mentioned at all, and screen resolution was not considered much of a factor.

The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2007. This annual study of college students and their use of technology now includes longitudinal data for the past 3 years. Any guesses about what the trend is? Something all instructors, K-whatever, might want to consider:

For better or worse, students put responsibility for the answer to the question "Does technology improve learning?" squarely on their instructors. Rarely do students attribute IT-related learning problems to their own technical limitations. If the student conclusions are correct, then optimizing technology effectiveness for learning is best focused on four areas:

  • developing instructor technology skills
  • training instructors on how to effectively integrate technology and pedagogy
  • improving the speed, reliability, and support of the institution's network and academic applications. especially course management systems; and
  • increasing instructor and administrator awareness about how their students differ in technology savvy and access to technology resources

Beyond the Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children. Thomas B Fordham Institute, July 2007. Chester E. Finn and Diane Ravitch have compiled an extensive set of essays on why we need to go beyond the 3r's and narrow technical training when considering the education our children and our society need. From Finn's introduction:

STEMs Without Flowers
Recent days have brought yet another challenge to liberal learning in the schools: well-meaning business leaders and policy makers,rightly concerned about America’s (and their states’) competitiveness and the dearth of highly skilled workers able to sustain tomorrow’s technology-driven economy, are pushing so-called STEM (Science,Technology,Engineering,and Mathematics) training.
STEM seeks to give students the skills needed to handle the technology-rich tools that undergird the modern economy.Understandably,leading proponents of STEM have included the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM),vividly aware ofthe difficulties that employers face in finding,hiring,and retaining such people.NAM reports,for example,that 90 percent of
America’s manufacturers now face shortages of skilled production employees such as machinists, operators,craft workers,distributors,and technicians.

Such problems are real.Yet those who see K-12 education as the solution to them are pointing America toward yet another curricular tightening and another round of unintended consequences. In the long run,America’s true competitive edge is not its technical prowess but its creativity, its imagination, its inventiveness, its people’s capacity to devise new solutions,to innovate, to invest new organizational as well as technological forms,and to eke productivity gains out of what others see as static situations.STEM cannot claim to inculcate such attributes any more than the basic-skills folks can. Indeed,too much STEM may mean too few leaves and flowers.If children are deprived ofthe rich content of American history,as well as the history ofo ther cultures, geography, the arts, languages, and literature,they will face unmanageable challenges on many fronts.

I have to admit I've not read the entire 192 page book, but it looks promising. I've been a Diane Ravitch fan since her book, The Language Police came out in 2003.

Finally, just a nod to Harrison and Killion's article "Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders" in this month's Educational Leadership. (Sorry only the abstract is available free online.)  They list and describe these things teachers as leaders do:

  1. Resource Provider
  2. Instructional Specialist
  3. Curriculum Specialist
  4. Classroom Supporter
  5. Learning Facilitator
  6. Mentor
  7. School Leader
  8. Data Coach
  9. Catalyst for Change
  10. Leaner

 What jumped out at me is that the authors describe what so many library media specialists ARE ALREADY DOING!

Cat reading image from Postmark Press

 What reports have caught your eye lately?