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Two of the Coolest things I’ve Heard Lately

My blogging has been down lately. Partly it’s because of the time it takes to prepare for upcoming work, and partly it is a growing selfish desire to steal back more time for myself. But the great thing about the traveling that I do is that I get to listen. For instance in Calgary, I got to listen to by Dr. Dennis Sumara, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Calgary. I wrote about his talk in my last blog post, but one of the ideas that he shared that struck me was that the way that we teach and run schools seems to assume that people are logical. He said that instead of logical, we are analogical.

Owing to my dense mind and inability to hear clearly, it took me a moment to figure out that he was playing with the word analog and not antilogical.

He then gave us some time to talk about that idea with our tables, where we pushed it even further. My suggestion was that logic, in instruction, makes the teachers’ and the curriculum developers’ jobs easier. That’s probably an exaggeration, and that’s probably not a bad thing in such conversations. Exaggeration breaks paradigms. The truth is probably that logic also helps us to learn. “This is true because that was true and those were not true.”

Perhaps it’s where we apply what we’ve learned that the analogical comes in. We need to factor into our learning experiences people’s real-world tendency to make and work with personal connections, so that the learning gets applied, not just reported.

The other cool thing that I heard was while riding on the wrong side of the road in New Zealand. There’s something about that sort of tension that makes you hyper alert, even at 1:00 in the morning. Rob Callaghan, a principal in Christchurch, had picked me up at the airport and was driving me to my hotel. We were talking about the upcoming conference and he mentioned that Stuart Hale, from Auckland, was working with his faculty on using Apple’s Keynote software.

“So why a special emphasis on Keynote,” I asked.

Well it seems that they are switching to an e-portfolio style of assessment for students. Now I’ve only recently started digging deeper into Keynote and uncovering some of it’s more dramatic features. But any special practicality to e-portfolios did not intuitively come to mind. Then, Calahan told me that they were going to start holding more frequent and regular parent-teacher conferences, which will include the child, and that these conferences will be led by the learner using Keynote to present what he/she has learned, and their reflections on their learning.

This one policy change seems to fit in to so much of what is sense is missing in American education. What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

  • http://marcovitz.com/ David Marcovitz

    Was analogic a play on analog or analogy. It seems to me that we learn a lot by analogy.

  • http://marcovitz.com/ David Marcovitz

    Was analogic a play on analog or analogy? It seems to me that we learn a lot by analogy.

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  • Stacey

    Wow. What a great idea to have the kids be in charge of their own learning. But here is where I struggle. I don’t think we can get kids to be reflective until we, as teachers, become reflective educators. And my four years as a Literacy Coach has shown me that this is a huge challenge. The majority of the teachers I work with want to know what to, how to do it, and, if you don’t mind, give me the materials with which to complete the task.
    My attempts to engage people in conversations about their teaching, or to read articles or blog posts, continually fail. How can teachers help students apply learning when they don’t engage in learning themselves?
    I would argue that our schools are illogical, because so many teachers operate from their emotional level, resisting change and challenge because of the fear and discomfort it causes. If there are new ideas that could be more effective, this is threatening. Many of the teachers I work with take change as a personal attack on their competence.
    So, how can I, as a coach, help teachers become reflective learners so that they can nurture reflective students?

  • http://davidsonchaseedm310.blogspot.com Chase Davidson

    I would like to say that I agree with the statement made about other people using their education in real world experience because if they do not learn it correctly or learn to apply it then they will never be able to reuse the task or skill. I also think it’s great that they are starting to go to more of a student integrated parent teacher meeting and helping the students actually show what they have learned using technology.

  • http://www.phonecalldata.com/privacy.php apple the phone gal

    I understand what you feel Stacey. But me as a teacher really make sure how to handle my students and myself as well. It depends on teachers, not all don’t engage in learning themselves.

  • http://cougarcommunication.pbworks.com/w/page/9030307/Warrior-Teachers Jan Seiter

    Great idea…but Stacey is correct about teachers being hesitant and resistant to change.
    I think teachers (all learners) need to be brave. Teaching, as I tell my students, is not for wimps. I’m going to ask my Ed Tech class what they think about this idea in the Prof. dev. module we will do.

  • http://www.quranequran.com Quran Tutor

    thanks for sharing this information

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  • C Haynie

    I think that having students be more reflective about their learning would make the learning more effective, connected, and better retained. Our thinking needs to change about assessment. Most people – teacher, parents, and students- are only concerned with the percentage correct and the letter on the grade card. If we make it a practice to teach our students how to be reflective about what they have learned and how that knowledge can be applied to their life, they will retain the knowledge better.

    I also think that portfolios of learning and tasks or projects are a more effective way of assessing growth in students’ learing than a letter grade. However, under the current era of high stakes testing, and the longstanding paradigm of grading, convincing teachers, administration, and the public that our evluation system needs to have a complete overhaul will be an intense struggle. Rather like climbing K2 without oxygen.

  • Nancee Gormley

    I agree that the idea of using electronic gradebook and reporting technology to plan, schedule and facilitate parent teacher conferences- which would be run by the learner! We have a frustrating time getting parents to respond to requests for conferences. This might be a solution since parents would be more invested in attending a conference run by their child providing a clear demonstration of the students progress or lack of it.

  • http://2centsworth Evelyn Canavan

    Two of the Coolest Things I have heard lately.

    I enjoyed reading this blog fro a couple of reasons.
    One I was in Calgary on the weekend and I love the city.
    One of the best Professional Development experiences I had was at the Reaching and Teaching council in Calgary. The sessions were amazing. One of the speakers was Rick Du Four who talked about Professional Learning Communities.

    I was interested in your New Zealand experience. It sounds similar to what is happening in the U.K. where they are having monthly reports / interviews with parents.
    In our schools in Grande Prairie, Alberta, many teachers do Student Led Conferences where the students get the opportunity to show their parents what they typically do in school and what they have learned.
    I am presently working on my masters through Walden and have now become familiar with the e- portfolio.
    All of our report cards and IPP’s are electronic. The good thing abut that is we can do them anywhere, even at Calgary Airport!.

    Evelyn Canavan

    • Nancee Gormley

      The school I teach in uses electronic report cards also, and I am a student at Walden University also! I see a large gap between electronic gradebooks and e-portfolio where the student posts all requirements. I have had several diifculties with e-portfolio and I would hesitate to propose it’s use in a high school. Has your experience been different?


Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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