Don't Teach Your Kids this Stuff. Please? Response
The above blog post was authored by Scott McLeod who is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky and founder of CASTLE, which is "the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators" according to his website. He is a huge advocate of incorporating technology in the classroom, as can be seen by his post "Don't Teach Your Kids this Stuff. Please?" above. This post is actually an overly-sarcastic poem to parents, teachers, administrators, and board members. The message he wants to reiterate is that by not teaching students skills like writing online, social networking skills, and other tech-savvy abilities, we are putting them at a disadvantage for their future endeavors. I completely and totally agree with his ideas. However, I think that using over-the-top sarcasm to communicate his point is completely ineffective. This is what I wrote as response to his blog post:
I am a student in the EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. While I understand your position, I don’t completely agree with your method of communicating it. Yes, the world of education needs a serious update technologically speaking. However, I don’t think that sarcasm is a device we need to use to highlight that fact. I have found that sarcasm usually “turns people off” to the true message. They focus more on the tone than the content. Presentation is always important in communication. Perhaps there is a better way to communicate the lack of technology in our classrooms.
This accurately details how I feel about sarcasm as a tool for change. He is not going to persuade anyone of the validity of his argument with this method. I would never teach my students that sarcasm was an appropriate or effective way of communicating their ideas, and I don't think that educators should use this method either. Also, I would like to say that he seems to trivialize children looking at pornography and/or the threat of online predators. I know that this post is meant for adults (parents and educators), but has he considered the repercussions of a child reading this post. What would a student take from this post? He needs to consider these things.
DISCLAIMER: I appreciate sarcasm as tool of comedy or humor. In fact, I find myself being a "smart-aleck" pretty much on a daily basis. I don't think that people take you seriously when you use it to make a point or to persuade someone in an argument.
The iSchool Initiative Video Response
"If we are going to thrive in the information age, we must rethink, retool, and rebuild our educational institutions to better prepare our youth for the digital world they were born into." This quote by Travis Allen (as a 20-year-old) in his short video ZeitgeistYoungMind Entry totally encompasses his original proposal for the iSchool Initiative. This initiative, which Allen put forth when he was a 17-year-old high school student from Georgia, outlines in detail what he calls the iSchool. This program centers around Apple's iTouch device. All aspects of a traditional school would be incorporated into this curriculum but enhanced with features like email and online chats. Online applications tailored to specific subjects like Chemistry and History would be the backbone of the program. However, applications such as Recorder would enhance traditional lecture experiences for students. The iTouch would replace textbooks, handheld calculators, and calendars. His argument is that this would save money, create more accountability for students and teachers, and create more involvement for parents in the education process.
When I first watched Travis Allen's video, I was very impressed with the innovative and complex ideas coming from a 17-year-old student. The applications that he highlighted in the video, such as Chemical Touch and WorldWiki, could revolutionize teaching methods in my opinion. However, I don't necessarily think he should limit his plan to the iTouch device. With the popularity of tablets (including, but not limited to, the iPad and Kindle Fire), in the last few years the possibilities for this project have expanded to other devices. Students could also get these applications on iPhones or other smartphones. Since kids spend so much time on these devices anyway, I think this could be a really great idea. I think that implementing this in the schools could be tricky. Would it be up to the individual student to purchase these items, like they have to provide their own graphing calculators? Or would the taxpayers get stuck with the bill? Perhaps they could integrate the iSchool in stages, a little at a time. Either way, I think Travis Allen is definitely going places and is a front runner in educational innovations.
Virtual Choir Response
Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir video was breathtaking. All I could think about while watching this was my high school's small choir. We were a 5A school but only had about 15 people in the entire choir. A project like this could give smaller schools an opportunity to a part of something bigger and more complex. Also, with budget cuts starting with the arts, perhaps one music teacher could conduct and combine the choirs of several schools over the Internet. Thanks to Jennifer Chambers for sharing this video!
Teaching in the 21st Century Response
What does Roberts thinks it means to teach in the 21st century?
If I could sum up Mr. Roberts idea about what it means to teach in the 21st century, I would say that he thinks it is not enough just to teach using technology but to teach how to use technology. He emphasizes the importance of engaging students with technology and not just entertaining them. He thinks that teaching has changed from a profession that transmits knowledge to students, because knowledge is readily available at any time on any subject. Now teaching is a what he considers a "filter" of this knowledge and information. We have to teach skills not just mere facts. I would have to agree with Mr. Roberts for the most part. Although I understand that this is the information age and students have all the fact-based knowledge they want at their fingertips, that does not necessarily mean that they will access that information. Teachers will still have to serve in that capacity on some level. However, I do agree that skills have become more important than content. Engaging students with a relevant and practical education that they can actively control is important for today's teacher.
Reading Rockets website is comprised of a variety of resources not only for educators but for parents and other professionals such as Librarians and Principals. It contains classroom strategies, lesson plans and guides, and tips and suggestions on reading exercises. One strategy I found that I would use in the classroom is called Jigsaw. Jigsaw is described on the website as a "cooperative learning" technique that involves several groups of students to research different aspects of the same topic. For instance if we were studying the Civil War, one group would be investigating the causes, while another looks at the aftermath. These group members go back to their "home" group and teach them what they learned about their aspect of the topic. Therefore, the "home" group pieces together the whole topic like a Jigsaw puzzle.
Another tool I found on this site that I thought would be relevant to teaching History is the themed book list. This organized catalogue of books for a wide range of ages includes specific and precise topics that teachers can easily browse through to find book ideas that would relate to the subject they are teaching. The only problem I see with the website is that it is geared more toward elementary school teachers. Those of us teaching secondary education are sort of "left out." For example, the reading list goes from Kindergarten to age nine reading levels. I would still consult this site, because it has other great tools for students who struggle with reading, and projects and activities that could be modified for upper-level classrooms, such as Jigsaw.