Friday, March 27, 2009

Inspired by the TL Summit and Cool Math Teachers...

This morning as I was driving my 1 hour drive to Hafford, I had a "ping" moment. My students could take definitions from their geometry unit and with the help of a drawing program create slide images to explain these geometric concepts. I could import them into Windows Movie Maker, or just put them on a Google Docs slide show and post it in our blog.

Yesterday, I had all my students copy a portable program that cannot be named into their documents folder. This program has draw tools that can create circle pies. While the student creates them, he/she can see the exact angle of the pie in a tiny window. I wanted them to have some practice creating and measuring angles, as well as learn how to use draw tools. (Never teach anything that doesn't go with at least 3 other things I always say; it's the wardrobe planning method of instructional design...but I digress).

Today with the same program, each student created a slide and we exported them to .gif. I learned that I had to save the documents to their accounts and then copy them to the homework file, rather than saving them directly the homeowrk file.

Kids said it was the most fun they'd had in a math class. I guess I'd better not do this again. School, especially math class, is supposed to be miserable.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Educational Reform = Societal Reform

I think education has become the scapegoat of society. Schools are expected more and more to perform the duties that only a whole, well-functioning and integrated society can.

I remember some things learned back in my caveperson university days, an era when calculators had just replaced slide rules. I remember learning that schools are a reflection of the communities they serve. If this is true, (I think it is) then it is nearly pointless to ponder educational reform until social reforms take place.

It would seem in our society that we have compartmentalized everything, for example religion, food production, commerce, health care, families, child rearing, elder care, education of the young, safety. We have created experts and institutions for each of these social functions. These experts and institutions tend not to take any responsibility for matters not considered under their authority. The individual must deal with a dizzying number of experts and institutions in order to just survive from day to day.

Somehow in our 21st century world we are getting worse and worse at effectively meeting the needs of the people who live here. Society needs to function as a whole unit since a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Until we world citizens can de - compartmentalize our institutions and learn to communicate and effectively problem solve together, I don't think anything will get much better, and probably will get a whole lot worse.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Apology to Dean Shareski

I need to apologize to Mr. Shareski. In the heat of an intense tekkie meeting I responded to an image projected by Donna D. and obtained via Dean's flickr. I meant to find the image to attach to my blog to complete the context...but my eyes are failing me and I couldn't see the projection and then I couldn't find the flickr image...and then we had to go home.

Without the image the post made it sound like Mr. S. himself had made the quote, when in fact, he had just posted it from somebody else. Thank you for graciously pointing this out to me in your comment. I am honoured that you would read "Life on the Lefthand Side". I enjoy your blog tremendously and have also enjoyed hearing you present at conferences. You make me think (I hope not just react!) For that I am indebted.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Personal Lerning Networks: A response to Donna's presentation

This is a response to our tekkie meeting and a comment posted by Dean Shareski that I can't find at the moment but it struck a nerve I'll write about it.

I don't think personal learning networks are new. They are the way of the world.

I find Shareski's quote so arrogant. While "technology" is useful (don't get me wrong I LOVE it) I have to ask myself, What constitutes technology?" Isn't a note in a bottle a form of technology? A nail dipped in blood can be used to write. What does it mean "to advance"? Does one need a computer to promote learning and wisdom?

If one does not value learning, expanding one's own horizons, and questioning what one holds to be true, it doesn't matter how much technology one has and how many people one can connect with. Learning is a way of being, a lifestyle, a spiritual practice if you will. Technology, whatever it is, is merely a tool.