"This spring, at St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia, the fifth-grade Spanish class programmed computers to produce bilingual, animated photo albums. The seventh-grade science class rejiggered the code behind climate models ..."
This article softly debates coding while featuring "Scratch" and the multiple learning goals achieved. Moreover, there are terrific links as well as a focus on "unstuck" vis-a-vis the role of the teacher. Excellent piece!
Peter Senge's keynote speech "Systems Thinking for a Better World" at the 30th Anniversary Seminar of the Systems Analysis Laboratory "Being Better in the Wo...
Linda Alexander's insight:
If you've not had the opportunity to listen to Peter Senge talk about systems thinking, complexity, etc. this is your chance. We do not live alone.....we are interdependent...& how nature and human beings were always one and only separated in the last 100 years.
Changing Attitudes At the start of each year, I have to train students that I will not be feeding them answers. I will not be having them copy notes from the board. I will not hand out copies of words and definitions for them to study. I will not hand them fill-in-the-blank paragraphs that we will all fill in together.
Rather, I will teach them how to develop questions. And when they ask me for answers, I will happily and without embarrassment, reply with, "I don't know."
I will also teach them that when I ask them a question it's OK if they say, "I don't know." I won't make them feel bad for not knowing the answer. Instead, I will spend vital time teaching them that when "I don't know" pops into one's head, it is the trigger to find out. For me, the guide in the room, that means making sure that my own attitude does not reflect our society's assumption that "I don't know" is a weakness.
"I don't know" has been so negatively ingrained that it can make a student feel powerless enough that just the mere inkling of it tickling their brain can shut down learning. But to make "I don't know" a more positive phrase takes targeted lessons in empowering students to conquer their own confusion. It's important to permit them confusion, to permit them to admit that the pathway before them is blocked with overgrown foliage and weeds. Then you hand them a mental machete to clear the way themselves.
In the Classroom One way to give power to an "I don't know" attitude is to teach internet literacy early and often, giving students the power to seek out answers themselves.
Today, I'm going to share the first three lessons I do to teach online literacy, and those that focus the most on harnessing the power of the search bar so that "I don't know" can really mean, "Wait! Let me find out!"
1. Make Google do the work. I do a quick exercise with my students about the brat that is the Google search. Incidentally, I give it a voice and personality for my students. I have them type into the standard search bar: video games in education and ask for the number of pages Google recommends. The answer is somewhere in the 800,000,000 range. "What?" I say as lazy Google. "I just gave you what you asked for." Then I challenge them to make Google do all the work. See, Google doesn't make people stupid, as a recent article once claimed. It just does what you ask it to, no more, no less. The challenge, then, is to think about how to be specific enough in your search that you make the search engine do the work for you.
From there, I have students customize the Google advanced search page. Use more specific key words; use the drop down menus such as those that focus on language, region, and date posted. Then, I show them how to filter for fair use. Then I have them click "Advanced Search." (From the results page, if you click on "Search Tools" you'll see the new number of hits.)
This leads to an inevitably more encouraging number than before. You might find that some students have only 5,000 hits. Some might have only 1,000. But what you're looking for are those students who can model what they did on the advanced search page that resulted in only 50 or 20 or even 10 hits that really apply to the topic. After all, if most students don't click past the first page of results on a search, it's vital to make sure that this first page is as applicable to their topic as possible.
2. Create a timed scavenger hunt. Group students with a short list of questions that need to be answered about a particular topic. Sure, I'm an English Language Arts teacher, but I ask eighth grade history questions on my scavenger hunt to reinforce the communication of content other than my own.
To find the answers, the students need to work together to develop the most efficient key word combinations to make Google do the more accurate searching for them. Make it a contest: Which group can most quickly find the correct answer, correctly cite the page on which it was found, and insert the answer and citation on the Google Document posted on the monitor in the front of the room?
3. Verify the Evidence. Embrace Wikipedia and all that it can teach. But make sure that a student knows the steps to verify what's legit and what's biased or even outright false. Wikipedia makes for a great lesson on keywords and main ideas. Take a passage that is related to your content. Have the students pull out the main facts, data, or keywords. Can they even recognize them? That's an informal assessment right there. Have them assemble these keywords into their own question and Google it. Have they found at least three other websites to corroborate the fact? I call this "triangulating the data," and it empowers students by giving them a strategy they can use to recognize falsehood online.
Sheridan Blau once said, "Honor confusion." The phase, "I don't know" is one that both honors confusion and stimulates the process of clearing it up.
How does your classroom honor "I don't know?" What strategies do you use to help them find their own answers? Please share in the comments section below.
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"The light that a city emits is like its glowing fingerprint. From the orderly grid of Manhattan, to the sprawling, snaking streets of Milan, to the bright contrast of Kuwait’s ring-roads, each city leaves its own pattern of tiny glowing dots. See if you can ID these cities based on the way they shine."
An often overlooked issue in today’s schools is the dire state of boys’ education. Research shows that institutions are failing to engage male students, and the outcome couldn’t be any clearer. Across all age, ethnicity, and economic demographics in the US, boys consistently account for the overwhelming majority of disciplinary referrals, failing g...
Coding is becoming one of the essential literacies in the 21st century education. There is a growing demand now for teaching students how to code. In his wonderful TED talk titled "Let's teach kids to code", Scientist Mitch Resnick made this beautiful analogy: "When kids learn to code , it enables them to learn many other things, opens up many new opportunities for learning. It's useful to make an analogy to reading and writing, when you learn to read and write it opens up opportunities for you to learn so many other things, when you learn to read you can then read to learn, which is the same thing with coding, if you learn to code you can code to learn."
VideoDescribing something as the “Woodstock of…” has taken to mean a one-of-a-kind historic gathering. It happened recently when a group of educators came to the ranch to learn how to teach Lean entrepreneurship to K-12 students. — We Can Do Better than Teaching Students How to Run a Lemonade Stand Over the last few years [...]
Linda Alexander's insight:
Featured in Forbes Magazine as the national leader in entrepreneurship education.
At the 2014 ISTE conference in Atlanta, Georgia, last week, Common Sense Media staff and Graphite Certified Educators presented a series of engaging, informative, and hands-on lightning-fast sessions. These 15-minute workshops showcased practical and engaging ways to use specific...
"Polls continually reveal that employers are more interested in what you can do over what you studied and traditional resumes are slowly giving way to digital portfolios as the primary gauge of your employability. A portfolio is both a container and a presentation platform for your best work - whether that be written pieces, photography, videos, presentations, performances or anything else. There's no better place than school to start developing that portfolio and creating a system that enables students to edit and share digital portfolios should be high on your priority list."
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