Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. Don’t address me as Professor Camus. Call me Al.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just sit in those desk-chairs and pay attention to what I write on the blackboard.
The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. That’s at the highest level, of course. Your aim should be to improve your craft.
Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth. That doesn’t mean that I will tolerate plagiarism in this class.
I know of only one duty, and that is to love. Marjorie, please see me after class.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. I want you all to give me two pages on your spring break.
A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession. What did you mean, Jimmy, when you wrote that your protagonist wants to maim his teacher?
After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. Did you all bring your anthologies to class?
You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without having asked any clear question. Why don’t you rephrase what you just said, Tiffany?
Don’t wait for the last judgment—it takes place every day. Yes, there will be grades in this course.
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. Don’t let this dissuade you from revising again and again, which can really improve a piece of writing.
Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better. The final assignment is open topic.
Teaching or testing? Teaching to the test and excessive test preparation invalidates inferences that can be drawn from the scores – yet they are the inevitable response to pressure to produce good test scores. Classroom time is devoured by not only the tests themselves but also practice tests, pre- and post-tests, field tests for the tests, benchmark tests, teacher tests, district tests, and state or provincial tests. Because testing is not teaching, this ultimately leads to a loss of opportunities for students to have a broad range of educational experiences, and the first things to go usually end up being the arts and physical activity – which do not lend themselves to be easily tested.
About 35,000 meteorites have been recorded since 2500 BC, and a little over 1,000 of them were seen while they fell, based on data from the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. Carlo Zapponi, a data visualization designer, visualized the…
Tomorrow, May 21, 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Once upon a time, making change in the world was a lofty goal that, to a student, seemed achievable only to those with great power. Today, anyone can use social media to sculpt their own network of influencers — friends, celebrities, politicians, thought leaders, non-profit
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to support innovation, and to avoid feedback loops that trigger fads and unjustified hype. I figure the story usually starts with an innovation. Somebody has an idea for a process/product/tool/whatever. A few people try it out. Early adopters. People start getting excited about it. From there, I’m thinking the adoption curve takes roughly 4 different lines:
From the initial adoption curve, the line will either:
- keep going at that trajectory. exponential growth. venture capitalists drool over this. it’s also not sustainable. carrying capacities of ecosystems, etc…
- slows down a bit, but keeps (more slowly) growing. This is probably healthier. But venture capitalists aren’t as excited by it, and so the media cares less about this kind of saner adoption curve.
- plateaus. the early adopters are basically the entire market for the thing. this is not necessarily a bad thing. early adopters need things, too…
- fizzles out. see Google Wave. Early adoption curve looked like it was going to Change The World™ – but… yeah.
Why does this matter? Because the media (and the traditional media now takes its cues from the online technical “media” sources1 ). Because anything that doesn’t conform to the insane exponential growth curve is deemed a failure by the media, and we let that happen.
What does this mean, specifically for educational technology innovation? I don’t know. But this is the pattern that has repeated itself for decades now. We need to work with innovators, to cultivate meaningful innovation, and not get distracted by the “media” and the press release republishing – especially as we move through Corporate Keynote Season…
- who, in turn, take their cues from press releases published by companies that can afford media agents
Emily Spivack, who runs the Smithsonian blog Threaded, browses eBay for vintage clothing. She found herself especially drawn to clothing items that had stories behind them. Intrigued, she began buying those items with the best stories. It became a hobb…
What if you wanted to hire some new technology integrationists? What would you look for? At Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, we placed an emphasis on finding folks who already were doing incredible work with students and teachers. If you want amazing things to occur in your organization, find people who already are doing that stuff, right?
Some of the emphases in our position announcement were a) technology infusion for the purpose of enabling cognitive complexity and student agency, b) innovation and risk-taking, and c) demonstrated success with students and teachers. In order to get at the latter, we asked for 5 URLs of personal, student, and/or educator work products and a 3- to 6-minute online video, both of which should illustrate their amazingness.
I can’t describe how helpful the URL and video components of the applications were. They allowed us to very quickly and easily see who was (and wasn’t) doing great things. Plus they were just fun! Below is the first portion of one of the videos. Is it possible to watch that and not be excited?!
In our interviews we asked questions like:
- What gets you up in the morning? What burns a fire in your belly?
- What are three concrete examples of how you have personally transformed education?
- What are you going to do for us over the next year that is awesome? How will we know at the end of the year if you were amazing?
As a result of this process, we’ve got four phenomenal new hires for next year. I’m excited to get them connected with our other incredible staff!
- Mike Anderson - elementary teacher and STEM co-coordinator for Sibley-Ocheyedan CSD; has been delving deep into iPads and STEM-focused, inquiry-based learning; a great resource for robotics, iMovie, and GarageBand; does amazing video work
- Julie Graber - technology and learning consultant for AEA 267; Authentic Intellectual Work, Instructional Practices Inventory, and TPACK guru; 1:1 facilitator; knows a ton about aligning the Iowa Core, Characteristics of Effective Instruction, and ISTE’s Essential Conditions
- Erin Olson - high school English teacher for Sioux Central CSD; classroom was featured in The New York Times; KICD Teacher of the Year; Bammy Secondary Teacher of the Year Award nominee; doing powerful work around enabling student voice through blogging, video, and service learning literacy projects; active in Iowa Communities of Practice and Innovation
- Leslie Pralle Keehn - social studies teacher and PD coordinator for Northeast Hamilton CSD; Iowa Social Studies Teacher of the Year; national C-SPAN Fellow; piloting the Big History Project; wide-ranging experience with 1:1, iPads, and social media; active in Iowa Communities of Practice and Innovation
Follow ‘em on Twitter, folks, and stay tuned for more information. We’re going to (continue to) do amazing things!
- Supporting effective technology integration and implementation: 2012 ISTE Leadership Forum #isteLF12
- Memorial Day (and technology integration) tokenism
- What does “technology integration” mean?
I try to imagine myself as a privatizer. How would I proceed? If my objective were to dismantle public schools, I would begin by trying to discredit them. I would probably refer to them as “government” schools, hoping to tap into a vein of libertarian resentment. I would never miss an opportunity to sneer at researchers and teacher educators as out-of-touch “educationists.” Recognizing that it’s politically unwise to attack teachers, I would do so obliquely, bashing the unions to which most of them belong. Most important, if I had the power, I would ratchet up the number and difficulty of standardized tests that students had to take, in order that I could then point to the predictably pitiful results. I would then defy my opponents to defend the schools that had produced students who did so poorly.
How closely does my thought experiment match reality? One way to ascertain the actual motivation behind the widespread use of testing is to watch what happens in the real world when a lot of students manage to do well on a given test. Are schools credited and teachers congratulated? Hardly. The response, from New Jersey to New Mexico, is instead to make the test harder, with the result that many more students subsequently fail. [Addendum 2009: "Math scores are up on Long Island and statewide - enough so that state educational leaders could soon start raising the bar....Meryl Tisch of Manhattan, the new Chancellor of the state's Board of Regents, said...'What today's scores tell me is not that we should be celebrating but that New York State needs to raise its standards" (Newsday, June 1, 2009.]
Consider this item from the Boston Globe:
As the first senior class required to pass the MCAS exam prepares for graduation, state education officials are considering raising the passing grade for the exam. State Education Commissioner David Driscoll and Board of Education chairman James Peyser said the passing grade needs to be raised to keep the test challenging, given that a high proportion of students are passing it on the first try. . . . Peyser said as students continue to meet the standard, the state is challenged to make the exam meaningful.
You have to admire the sheer Orwellian chutzpah represented by that last word. By definition, a test is “meaningful” only if large numbers of students (and, by implication, schools) fare poorly on it. What at first seems purely perverse – a mindless acceptance of the premise that harder is always better – reveals itself instead as a strategic move in the service of a very specific objective. Peyser, you see, served for eight years as executive director of the conservative Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank devoted to “the application of free market principles to state and local policy” (in the words of its website). The man charged with overseeing public education in Massachusetts is critical of the very idea of public education. And how does he choose to pursue his privatizing agenda? By raising the bar until alarming failure is assured.
Of course, tougher standards are usually justified in the name of excellence – or, even more audaciously (given the demographics of most of the victims), equity. One doesn’t expect to hear people like Peyser casually concede that the real point of this whole standards-and-testing business is to make the schools look bad, the better to justify a free-market alternative. Now and then, however, a revealing comment does slip out. For example, when the School Choice Advocate, the newsletter of the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation, approvingly described Colorado’s policy of publishing schools’ test scores, a senior education advisor to Republican Governor Bill Owens remarked that the motive behind reporting these results was to “greatly enhance and build pressure for school choice.”
An op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal just before Christmas by William Bennett and Chester Finn underscored the integral relationship between the push for high-stakes testing (which they call “standards”), and the effort to undermine public schooling (which they call “freedom”). The latter bit of spin is interesting in its own right: Vouchers, having been decisively rejected by voters on several occasions, were promptly reintroduced as “school choice” to make them sound more palatable. But apparently an even more blatant appeal to emotionally charged values is now called for. In any case, the article notes (correctly, I fear) that “our two political parties . . . can find common ground on testing and accountability,” but then goes on to announce that “what Republicans have going for them in education is freedom.” They understand this value “because of their business ties”; unlike Democrats, they are “not afraid of freedom.”
Even in an era distinguished by unpleasantly adversarial discourse, Bennett and Finn redefine its lower depths with the charge that freedom is a “domain that few Democrats dare to visit.” (Their evidence for this charge is that most Democrats exclude private schools from choice plans.) But this nasty little essay, headlined “No Standards Without Freedom,” serves primarily to remind us that the most vocal proponents of accountability – defined, as it usually is these days, in terms of top-down standards and coercive pressure to raise scores on an endless series of standardized tests – have absolutely no interest in improving the schools that struggle to fulfill these requirements. Public education in their view is not something to be made better; it is something from which we need to be freed.