A new school year will soon be upon us and our students. Another opportunity to touch the future. There have been many discussions this summer about things to do in the classroom or with the classroom. Get rid of the teacher desk...get rid of desks...add a Maker element...20% time (or even 1% time)...Read more...Write more...make a video....alternative assessment....throw out grades...self grading...student voice...student choice....PBL...SBG....TLAP....Skype....Vox....Tweet....
They may be scary, change is scary. They may be difficult, or just "out there" or we may fail, but we need to "Make School Different". How do we do this....one step at a time
(if video doesnt play click link above)
Start with one thing. And remember what the Mythbusters always say, "Failure is always an option." We don't always get things perfect the first time, so keep in mind iteration & growth mindset. Learn daily, our students do. Try something new, our students do.
When I was reading "Readicide" I kept thinking about the Oakland Raiders/Al Davis motto..."Just Win Baby", but paraphrased to "Just Read Baby" and Nike's "Just Do It". We all need to "Take a Chance"
for our students...for the future, because you "can't solve problems with the same thinking that created them" (Einstein) and if we only teach them as much as we know, society doesnt progress.
Can you say "understatement" or "captain obvious" or "duh".
But why do our students hate to read. I would say 95% of our high school students literally say this and follow it up by not reading. Our librarian said she only has a couple of readers...in a school of 700!!! I asked a bunch of kids as the year ended, "what do you plan on reading this summer?" and ALL pretty much said "I don't read". So I bought Readicide for MY summer reading. I have always felt that school kills learning as well as reading, and they go hand in hand. How much do you learn without reading something? When I decided to learn about Arduino & Gemma & wearables, I ordered a bunch of books to skim & have as reference. I might not read a lot of books (like someone in my PLN that read 100 last year), but I read many things daily : newspaper, science magazines, USAToday & CNN online, blog posts.
Student reading is something that has been on my mind for many years. A Principal bought magazine racks for me to put outside my classroom and fill with various magazines. My neighbor (biology teacher) and I put various science and tech magazines on there. Students have not used it as much as I have hoped. I have wondered if we give our students enough year round access to books. I gave a Kindle to our library filled with books; not sure how much it has been used (or at all). I stopped using textbooks in class because students did not use them, in addition to the fact that their correlation to the Standards was horrible and the idea of textbooks is outdated. I have tried to augment course reading with handouts that I put together and articles that I find. I need to do MUCH more of that and probably get some "textbook" style reading for variety & complexity. I have a cabinet of books that I need to put on my bookcase by the door. I need to get more books. I need to work more on student reading, for enjoyment and learning. Can we take some time during the week (start with 10 minutes) and just have "reading time", not necessarily content related?
Readicide has some statistics for things I had always believed. School has killed reading & Gallagher goes through many examples of how. Students will never develop interest unless given time & opportunity to go deep. Too many Standards, too much testing & assessment hinder reading. How do we help students become productive citizens if they never read and/or curate info about current society? Reading is so important for building vocabulary and communications skills and frames of cultural reference, as well as a base of knowledge. Students need daily, immediate access to books that can go home, and sometimes the "library" needs to come to them. They also need long, uninterrupted time to read (personally i don't want to read a chapter here or there - let me read the whole book at once)
- book flood (enormous availability of books of all variety)
- bi-textual reader (reading from variety of sources)
- 50/50 (content/recreational reading)
- time to get into flow (reading just happens and lose track of time)
These are passages I highlighted from Readicide.
One thing kept running through my mind = science reading material is "easy" to find-but how about Geometry????
A final thought about access to books, I am unhappy by our Districts answer that "the Public library is across the street from the school and is open during summer." Am I wrong?
Ray Bradbury said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
Any chance a school has a class JUST for reading & sharing???
Wichita, Kansas in the good ol' summertime, 100 degree heat.
Old Town Wichita is a very nice area...beautiful Hotel at Old Town, restaurants and shops just a block or two from the hotel, nice photo opportunities in a couple of block radius.
Podstock is 300 educators who get it or want to get it, aka have drunk the Kool Aid. They want to make school different and we can quickly slip into those conversations and share ideas and help each other improve our classrooms/schools.
PreCon (day before actual conference) was a day of making. A variety of stations were set up for teachers to experience ways to add STEAM to their environments...and STEAM is science TINKERING engineering AESTHETICS math. There were areas to sew, explore circuits, 3d design & print, robotics, coding/RaspberyPi, music, paper rockets, and vertical wind tunnel. The day ended too soon for most, as we just wanted to keep making stuff.
I believe every class should have some Maker aspect to it. I feel that making something representative of a concept or to demonstrate learning, anchors the concepts to our brain. It could be a crown or a sword while studying King Arthur, a family crest while studying history, a personally designed cookie cutter for cooking class, or a song for science. The big question is can the student verbalize the relationship of the artifact to the learning. The materials that could be used is limitless and choice in materials, as well as artifact, is one way to give students choice in their learning. By the way, Maker is not just a physical space, it is a midset, a way of thinking. People are proud of things they make. Didn't Mom & Dad put our creations on public display (fridge or shelf or mantle). With the Internet we have a great place for public display.
Now if they are making things, lights are a nice way to bling them a little. LED's and watch batteries are cheap. I use eBay, "500 bulk LED's" cost $14 (sometimes I buy 300) ; "100 CR2032" cost $16 (have seen these for $10) for batteries. I usually stay with a North American seller...if you go with a Chinese company expect 1 month shipping.
Sessions abound on Thursday and Friday, great ideas flow. I really appreciate that "purposeful mingling" is scheduled between sessions. Actual time to ask questions, visit with people, expand ideas. People have fun. Learning is enjoyable. At night there is karaoke and dancing. Two and a half days that go too fast.
I especially enjoy that a few people stay Friday after Podstock for "AfterGlow". We did lunch and talked. After that we sat in the hotel lobby (a beautiful place) for 8 hours and talked, things we learned and ideas for next year. Casual conversation, subjects changed seemlessly, get to know each other, catch up with each others lives, help each other flesh out ideas....lots of sharing. Conversations that don't happen back in my school.
I really wish there were some way to do a "Podstock mid year reunion", but life is busy and travel costs money. I also wish there were a way to have a "Podstock school"...populate a school with teachers from Podstock, ones that get "it". Hope I can make it back for #podstock16.