Saturday, March 24, 2012

Just Say "No" To Blogs

What do I mean by posting Just Say "No" To Blogs? on a blog. Has 'the simple teacher' guy lost the plot? Probably, but that post is for another day.

As we manage the dynamics of a Web 2.0-based classroom, the integration of the tools available to us must not overshadow the development of the learner. If a blog will enhance the learning process, then blog. If not, then choose a different tool or, better yet, let the students choose the tool. Remember "You do not need to bring in an elephant to teach the color grey." (Liz Dunham, c.1990)

We must also make the permanence of the Internet very clear to users. Once comments, pictures and videos are posted, they are in cyberspace for anyone and everyone to see. Check out the Once Posted You Lose It video which brings home the point of permanence.

As with any tool, its effectiveness is determined by the users. Choose your tools wisely, provide a structure for safe usage, and support authentic learning. 

Resource: Teacher Challenge: Setting Up Your Own Blog is the first lesson in a series to help set-up and run a blog for your classroom.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Emerging Practices of Online Assessment

The virtual modality is a reality.  As with the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities, learner participation and satisfaction is grounded in stimulation. As more and more online resources become available to both students and teachers, the selection and use of these resources to support a student-centered classroom as well as authentic assessment are paramount. The tool, whether crayon or computer, is but a vehicle to stimulate the learner to pursue knowledge and understanding. Its proper use, though, is the fuel which will actually ignite cognitive growth.

Resources: Blogger allows users to create a blog while PBworks supports users with creating a wiki. Wiki example provided by University of Wisconsin-Stout Assessment in E-Learning course.

Chariots of Fire

The opening of the movie has a group of British athletes on a training run along the coast. The theme song, written by Vangelis, draws from the runners the very emotion and passion of what lies ahead. The lives of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams are highlighted in the movie as they journey to glory in the 1924 Olympics. It is their passion, though, for a complete life which makes this movie relevant. Listen if you dare to be inspired...Chariots of Fire.

What "music" or "stories" from your classroom will inspire learners to glory?

Why Is Assessment Important?

Assessment is important because the process of knowing allows one to become a better provider. As we learn what our students know and do not know, then we can better facilitate for them what they need. The learner becomes more interested because their needs are being met on a regular basis. The class dynamic improves because the group of learners become interested in participating in what happens next. Classroom activities should be designed to satisfy assessment for learning. These activities, both formative and summative, should not represent the end but the beginning of the next adventure.

Resource: SurveyMonkey allows users to create an online survey

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Teaching is decision-making. As teachers, we make daily decisions about course content and management with the purpose and intent to create memorable learning experiences for our students.

Take a moment to reflect on your classroom. Is there any event which negatively impacts student learning? 

Take time to teach your students how you want the event to be managed and you will begin to "buy back" time. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Inspiration...A Different Kind of School Field Trip

When the thought of inspiring our students is considered we often think about special events: guest speaker, special project, or field trip. 

For a moment, let's play out the dynamics of a field trip. 

The teacher selects a location of value to supplement the curricular program of study. Students seek permission from their parents to attend because they want to go. On the day of the trip, there is great excitement because students feel they are "getting out of school". Students often wear their coolest clothes, put their favorite snacks in their backpacks, and get on the bus smiling. They are genuinely excited.

What if we were able to duplicate that excitement, desire, and inspiration at our schools? How would education be different if each morning our students got off the bus with the feeling of arriving for a field trip...wearing their coolest clothes, having their favorite snacks, and smiling with genuine excitement. Students would be eager to start their day. Learning would be an adventure. And, yes, when their parents ask, "What did you learn in school today?" there would actually be an answer different from "Nothing!"

What will you do today to create such a classroom, such a school, and most importantly, such a child?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Virtual Modality

The virtual modality is just as much a reality as the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities. Some of our students learn best in the virtual environment because they are more engaged there than anywhere else. The catch is the assumption that the virtual environment and its independence provides an easier path to knowledge. It does not. Online courses certainly have their place and make the world smaller. The net value of any online course, though, is whether or not the learner brings a new skill set to their face-to-face interaction with other humans. There needs to be a balance. Online courses are a tool just as a hands-on lab or a Socratic seminar. There is no easy path to knowledge. The work must be done and self-discipline must be present.