Thing 4

Thing 4 Reflection Notes (long).

Thoughts on blogging in general:
As teachers, shouldn’t we be asking more questions that provoke thought as opposed to handing out absorbable facts?
Could you create a blog where the post is the main question and the comments from readers are the real draw of the blog?
Would this be different enough from commenting on a Forum post?
Could you create a community of comment bloggers? – those who don’t have their own blog but are best known for the quality of their comments left on blogs.
What would it take to attract and regularly stimulate a comment-blogger? The same type of thing that draws a student to learning I suppose?

Do all bloggers go through an initial “nobody can possibly care about my thoughts” phase?

Specific thoughts from 5 of the articles:
Let’s start with Why I Don’t Assign Homework by dy/dan.
I have to say that I agree with this guy in general. He’s seen that the A/B/lifelong learner students will do the homework anyway. The D/F/unavailable students won’t or will halfassedly. The C students that give it a decent shot will do a decent job and probably move closer to being A/B in the future. There is perhaps greater learning going on when traditional homework is minimized and individualized projects are prioritized instead. Then again, this could be laziness in disguise trying to convince me to give up on homework entirely, when it would be better to work on improving the quality of the learning involved with the homework I assign. (By the way…did anyone notice his follow-up to the homework post?) Anyway, I know that if I assign a 20 min reading assignment, I usually get good compliance but the motivation is the associated grade; the content-related learning comes in a distant second. If I make the homework some kind of challenge or if it speaks to their curiosity, then I get smiles and there is evidence of their hard work that is easy to detect. I really don’t think that redesigning my “homework” assignments would be all that hard. Especially after reading
The Upside-down Pop Quiz by skydaddy.
I already prefer to do more note-based discussions than note-taking (note-giving, really). The student mind should be asked to grasp and consider the material and have the opportunity to ask “why?” or “so what?”. Less time should be wasted copying thoughts not original to the student’s mind. After all, finishing copying the notes first is only winning the game of school, not winning the game of learning. Let’s be honest that many read-and-outline-the-text homework assignments ask them to play the first game, rather than the preferred latter game. And isn’t the cycle perpetuated? A teacher that knows that his homework fits only to playing the game of school can only create fair quizzes and tests if they too are rooted in a play-the-game-of-school mindset. Oh my god…we’re doing it to ourselves! Is this why a certain student can’t “learn” and pass tests? Is it that the game we’re playing isn’t consistent with authentic goals and philosophies? Can it be as simple as “your practices are not consistent with your goals”? Hmm…my mind is now swimming with both doubt and inspiration. I’m very interested in giving this a shot. What online quiz software can I use that will both grade and send me the grade report of the quizzes? Is there a free version of Blackboard?
Other things I picked up:
From the Teaching Brevity article I picked up the idea of using constraints instead of minimums. This is similar to an approach to rubrics that I heard about once where you only give rubric details on what defines the highest quality work instead of details of the entire spectrum of what’s good, fair, bad, etc. I’ll probably give this a try with the House MD project that I do.
From the The Ripe Environment article, I found that I was not alone in my counterproductive technology frustration. If the newest tech has an unfavorable time spent vs. learning achieved ratio then I’m not very interested in it. Hmm…perhaps that’s what students think subconsciously when doing ineffective homework assignments?
Lastly, I’ll change gears with The Time is Now and pull out the technology quote “Get a vision, and get an expectation that having a digital component to student learning is absolutely necessary. Make it part of your culture, and support it relentlessly.” Well…that sounds great and I agree with it of course, but the brilliant bloggers and the tech book authors aren’t the technophobic faculty that hold back the rest of the school. Nor are they the disconnected administrators who have capital campaign visions on the front burner and a relatively poor understanding of how classroom learning and education actually happens. How many of these gurus are even hired as speakers or consultants by the schools that need them? Where’s the learning2.0 class for administrators that don’t understand what all the fuss is about from their teachers regarding technology? I guess my point is this…relentless support of a vision requires that everyone at the school from teachers to headmaster all get it an buy into it. What do you do when that hasn’t happened yet?

One thought on “Thing 4

  1. Why couldn’t you ask and essential question or some thought provoking question to begin a blog discussion with your students? Does everything have to be a ‘yes or no’ or ‘right or wrong’ answer?

    WOW! It sounds as if the blogs and articles you are reading are making you think about your practice. You can certainly begin a thought provoking dialogue during pre-planning and book discussion groups.

    Yes, there is a free version of Blackboard. It is called Moodle, but it is something that needs to be more school-wide. Talk to the technology department and push, push, push!

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