Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Amazing Ride Home from Christmas!

(Drove home from Door County today. Surfing the dial, a couple of great items came over the various channels.)

NPR Report:
A 17 year old student, Ms. Bechtel of Pennsylvania, has invented a device for detecting IED's using sound. How?
She explained in the interview, paraphrased here.

When I was in 8th grade, I was practicing my piano in my room. I am a musician.  I noticed the frequencies from the keyboard caused the metal on my banjo hanging on the wall to vibrate.  I thought, 'maybe I could use that principle to creat an IED detector using sound.

She used metal tins and authentic IED casings to test it in her backyard.  It worked great, other than a few false positives from bottle caps, etc.

She has been sharing her invention in various science fairs and competitions.

I have learned more science from science fairs than I ever learned in school.

Career aspirations?  I think she called it a "Molecular Particologist"?, and to work for a company in Sweden.

"WGLB - radio station featuring music from the 60's and 70's.  Check us out on Facebook!" 
The irony of an classic rock station on Facebook just hit me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thinking about "Content" ...

Content: What we teach in classrooms!
The information explosion is putting increased pressure on the classroom teacher, and what "content" is included in the time they have the students.

Where is the time going to come from to memorize all this new information, this new history, etc.?

Classroom Implications?
- The amount of information known about the world doubles
   every ... What is the latest number you've heard? 18 months, 15
   months, 12 months, less?
-  Everyone has access to information - anytime, anywhere!
-  The 4C's, entrepreneurship, adaptablity over-arch all content!
-  NCLB tests are info-trivia contests.
-  Change rates are increasing exponentially. 
-  All learners are connected.

Intriguing Thoughts - From Twitter
1.  Teachers: Don't ask the question if you can Google the answer.
     (Multiple sources on Twitter)

2.  Teachers: Don't ask the question if you (the teacher) know the
     answer.  (@irascol)

Sacred Cows
Capitals of the States
Bones of the body
US Civil War

Are we ready to have students graduate K-12 education never having memorized the capitals of the states or the bones of the body?
If we maintain our fidelity to the 4C's, entrpreneurship, adaptability, etc., does the content matter?  Can it vary from student-to-student? Can it be passion-based?

Monday, December 5, 2011

If NCLB focus is successful, kids lose, we hold the bag!

       "Obsession" "Knockoffs" "Malpractice"
Goals to improve test scores? Test prep sessions?
Test prep materials? Compensation for ANY school employees based on test scores? Data retreats focused on NCLB test results?
If Our Obsession with NCLB Works:
- All kids become proficient selecting the most correct of 4 options  
  by filling in the bubble. A deductive reasoning task based on test
  makers' judgement of the least wrong/most right bubble option.
- All kids are proficient at regurgitation of information.  NCLB tests
   require lower level Bloom's taxonomy information recall.
- Teachers, Principals, and Superintendents will all get merit
   increases for raising test scores.  Or, at least they won't be fired
   for NOT raising test scores.
"But, our education system is failing and not preparing kids for their future!"

Uh-oh. So, we're:
- NOT preparing kids for their future.
- NOT doing what is best for our country.
- NOT doing right by kids.

We know about quality assessment, assessment for learning, assessment AS learning.  But it is not fast, cheap, easy, quick, and internet-based.  It is kid-affirming, instructionally prescriptive.
NCLB "Thinking" - Knock-offs
standardized tests
value-added testing (VAT)
NCLB waivers (still test-obsessed)
Race to the Top (RTTT)
All experts - futurists, visionaries, business executives, educators, parents, psychologists - agree on what kids will need in the future.
To be successful, in every and all sense of the word "successful", students need to:
- innovate
- create
- collaborate
- critical thinking
- communicate
- adapt
- become entrepreneurs
There is an obvious mismatch between the educational accountability system and preparing kids for their future.  Why?
NCLB tests are fast and cheap, computer-scored, easily comparable.
Politics, lack of courage, lack of commitment to the reasons educators got into this business.
Culpability.  We are culpable. We are abdicating our responsibility to give kids our best.
Yes, culpability.  If not:
1. Stop the test increase goals! At ALL levels - classroom, grade,
    grade clusters, building, district, state.
2. SEA's: Get those test score comparisons off your website!
    In, Wisconsin, that is the DPI. You know better!
3. Serve kids, educate parents and the public. Choose kids' futures
    over the path of least resistance.  Give them the education they
    need, deserve.
4. Speak out. Engage in the dialogue of kids' futures.
When the mismatch, between the ecucational accountability system and what this next generation needs, plays out, we will be left holding the bag.  Culpable. Malpractice. Educators, the public education system, will be blamed for culpability or, at the very least, acquiescing.
"Sacred cow" moment
                                            Let's go there.
      Best practice - no way.  Teachers use better assessment in their
                                   classrooms EVERY DAY!
The best predictor of college/university success - try how the
                                  student did in High School.
                                        (We now return you to your regularly-scheduled reading.)
Contrary to commonly-held belief, the video below is a reaction to the idea of a 6th consecutive year of NCLB standardized tests, followed by at least 1 more in high school, ALL before taking the SAT/ACT. :)