Monday, October 8, 2007

dizzy today make me

I am always in awe of Dan Meyer's thoughts on education and media. Why is this personal preference relevant? Because...

Today, I spent my time doing the following:
  • viewing the K12 Online Conference PreConference Keynote, presented by David Warlick
  • engaging in live AjaxChat (you can still join the chat) during and after Mr. Warlick's presentation
  • solving the 'how do I invite people to my class wiki?' dilemma that is slowing reaching pandemic amongst the faculty
  • observing a teacher with his class in the library as they worked on answering a series of study questions about subliminal messaging
  • discussing creativity, as assessment criteria and lesson development, with Joyce Valenza
  • expressing thankfulness for the rhythmic sound of the fetal heartbeat, strong and audible, that could be heard from the fetal monitor pressed against my wife's pregnant body
Mr. Warlick states that kids are creatures, creatures with tentacles, and these tentacles reach through the walls. Then, when they enter their classrooms, teachers cut the tentacles off. Rude bastards!

And I don't really disagree with him. I work in a building no different than most, where teachers provide a series of rudimentary questions about ______________ (fill in your choice subject, but for the purpose today's experience, I'm gonna go with 'subliminal messaging') and then, 'poof!', the teacher leaves the kids alone. He goes and makes a phone call...or two, and the students exhale, recline, and wait for the one student to search online for answers and then communal sharing, but not the kind of collaboration that gets me all warm and fuzzy, begin.

The teacher is on the phone. I am in Joyce's office, viewing the event with her through the glass walls that encase her fortress of solitude. She tells me this teacher has done the aforementioned 'activity' for years; like I'm-back-in-first-grade-and-this-assignment-still- existed! Last year, Joyce suggested to the teacher a different way to get students to learn about subliminal messaging: create their own.

That idea is still available...if you want it. But in truth, it's not that much of an 'ew! wow!', but for the teacher above, the idea was way too creative, too out there, too hard to effectively assess.

But is it? If the teacher thought of that project on his own, wouldn't he have been able to 'see' the assessment? Wouldn't he have been considering the language for the accompanying rubric? Wouldn't he have been Mr. Mad Scientist, sitting @ his desk during his prep periods, sacrificing grading and grading, to create this most engaging, study-guide free learning experience?

I am certain the answer to all is yes, indubitably. Mr. Warlick states that 57% of teenagers have created authentic content for an online audience. I think that number is higher. But how many teachers have created authentic content for an online audience?

Don't answer that.

Before I could answer, a teacher calls, 'needing' my help: Wiki Crisis, Level Two. Turns out, all the invites he sent to his students didn't get to any of them.

How is that possible?

A: enter the email addresses in the message box and hit 'send'. Yep, he didn't know to enter the email addresses in the 'to' box.

I enter the email invites.

Back to the library, to join the AjaxChat in conjunction with David Warlick's keynote.

And I contribute. And I leave. And I come back. And I contribute some more. And I realize that I am living an educational life that is completely divorced from many of the other teachers in the building.

I enter email addresses for teachers.
I am witness to a stale, 30-year old lesson.
I am backchatting with educators from around the globe.
I am witness to an entirely new and impressive means of presentation.

And I am now, more than ever, convinced that a debate, 10 months old on Dan Meyer's blog, is really the evidence of the digital, instructional, and eternal divide that exists in education.

And that heartbeat I hear tells me that I am listening to the uncertain future; my future, tentacled child.

What will school look like to her?

1 comment:

Cathy Nelson said...

This cannot be true in your school!! Color me SHOCKED! Just kidding. I am constantly amazed at the rows upon rows i see in classes, and the expectation that our kids sit for 75 continuous minutes w/o talking or being even remotely engaged, save for listening to the teacher do the :sage on the stage" dance. Secretly I'd like to do an action research project where we "steal" all the desks overnight, and require the teachers to EARN them back. Maybe--and that's a big maybe--just give them folding chairs. After all, the class is 75+ minutes.