Week Three Thoughts

This week has been a good one for our Cohort. We’ve gotten to know each other a little better, and have seen some of the new technology that we will probably see in our future classrooms. I think that it’s really exciting to see that technology in general is finally being embraced, because I was in “the industry” for so long, and saw so many neat things that it could be used for that were often just passed of as a waste of time.
Classrooms have changed drastically from the old wooden floored rooms that I remember in my youth. I suppose that Seattle Public Schools still have those wood lined floors, as replacing them would be quite expensive and there’s certainly no money in the budget for that. The technology that we used when I was a child was comprised mainly of maps that were pulled down from their rolls placed on top of the green “blackboard” and an overhead that would be used with some transparencies- the epitome of high tech. Once in a while, we were able to wheel in a television and tune in a tv channel to watch a program. I specifically remember my 5th grade teacher allowing our class to watch the Sonics parade after they won the ’79 NBA Championship (no fair doing the math).
Today’s classrooms are filled with all kinds of things that just make teaching more full of life if used right. No longer does a teacher have to try and paint a picture of what the Great Wall of China looks like simply by using colorful metaphors and descriptive language; now you can literally go online and display lots of different pictures of the structure for your class to actually see the magnificent structure projected on their whiteboard.
My point is that yes, there are advantages to having that kind of technology available at your disposal, and it may be simply grand to be able to show an actual video of what a manatee looks like when a child wonders what one is. The problem is that sometimes it is going to be hard to convince those that make the decisions in the schools that the use of technology is actually beneficial for all involved, and not just a fancy- schmancy waste of the students time.
In Jane’s class last week, there was an example shown of a classroom wiki site that was created by students in…was it Abu Dhabi? Anyways, the point here is that those kids did something that they were genuinely interested in, and I’m pretty sure that a highlight of their day was to look and see who ha visited their website (or wiki) and left comments about their work. How absolutely cool is that to have people on the other side of the planet looking at what you have been doing in school and learning from your work? This sort of project fosters ownership of the material, and in turn enlists each child to become personally involved in the material that they are presenting and learning about. When this sort of this happens—a connection—it’s what leaning is all about. If you can find a connection that the kids can become excited about, something that they can become genuinely engaged and feel like what they are doing is something that they really, truly want to explore, then you have them in the position of being excited and ready to learn on their own. In a situation like that, it’s hard not to be excited about what’s going on in the classroom; and the classroom has expanded to include the world.
Ayers is a good read and tends to ground one when thinking about the teaching profession. I sincerely like the way that he reminds people not to look down at children, and that each child is special in their own way.
This week’s passage reminds us that just because someone excels in one area of knowledge, it does not mean that they are superiors to all others, it simply means that they’re are good in that area. The example of the young Native child who knew that a perfectly balanced eagle has 13 tail feathers, but was seen as a slow learner due to his reading ability especially rang true with me.
The passage reminds me of something that I heard once, I’m not sure where. America is the most optimistic country in the world. No where else can a person believe that with hard work and determination they can achieve anything. The truth is that each of us learn at different rates and have different aptitudes to learn different things at different abilities. But the belief that we all hold on to, the one that we can all achieve anything, makes us the best because we’re the most optimistic, and that counts for something. A good attitude is half of the battle- at least it seems to help from my experience in life.
This week will be interesting, I’ll be attending a Northshore School District Board Meeting. I’ve been to Board Meetings before, but this one’s going to have some added excitement going on with the recent issues surrounding the closing, then reopening of Woodin Elementary. I’m looking forward to the experience-

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One thought on “Week Three Thoughts

  1. We’ll be doing lots more on tech next year (and hopefully, it will also be integrated into some of your other classes) and the focus will always be on the learning that tech can enable, not just the dazzle of the tools. We can not only find images of the Great Wall, we can find satellite photos on which we can make our own annotations of historical or geographic of cultural points of interest along that wall, and then share our annotated map with kids in Iceland or China or Federal Way. So yes, we need to be talking more about how these things can support learning in really interesting new ways.

    Ayers isn’t talking so much about looking down on kids as doing what schools have long thought were int the best interests of kids — drilling them on their weaknesses rather than focusing on their strengths. Individual teachers can work on attitudes of “looking down”, but shifting the focus to children’s strengths really will require school-wide change.

    What did you think of what he wrote about knowing all kids? I’d like to see more on the readings from you — there is always, always something provocative in the readings….!

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