Harnessing the Shape of Information

These are some notes that I took during Dave Warlick's sectional Harnessing the Shape of Information.

Information is changing. Not only is it changing, but people are connecting with each other based on the information. The question is, what are schools doing to keep up with the change. You'd think in Lutheran Christian schools that we'd could be more flexible than our public school friends. But is that happening?

Dave's talking about our current classroom situation and that we are creating mirrors in our classrooms.
What we are really doing is asking children to reflect back to us what we give them. In a new landscape of education (School 2.0 if you will), students don't become reflectors, they are information changers. They aren't meerly reflecting information in a two ways (teacher/student--student/teacher), but it is multifaceted with students sharing with each other, and students teaching and sharing with people from outside the classroom. Learning in School 2.0 is about conversation.

The thing we need to be doing is to teach kids to teach themselves. We don't know what our kids world is going to look like, not even five-ten years from now. How can we be sure? Startling statistic, the top ten jobs in america in 2004 didn't even exist ten years earlier!

Lutheran Teachers....Does this effect the way you teach?

Why Am I So Suprised!!!

Today for our belated Valentine's Day party, I decided to have a little free-for-all fun! I told the kids to bring in their gaming systems and we'd just play around, eat chips, drink pop, and munch a few candy hearts. This was an immediate hit!

One of my new guilty pleasures is Guitar Hero(GH) for PlayStation 2. Almost makes me want to run out and buy a PS3 off the shelf. What impressed me the most about the game wasn't the game itself, but the way the kids flocked to it! Both Dance, Dance, Revolution(DDR) and GH were great fun to watch as the kids did seemingly impossible contortions with both fingers and legs. If only I could harness some of that energy into the classroom...I know....Dance, Dance, American Revolution :-) Kids could stomp there way through the Southern Campaigns of George Washington. Defeat General Cornwalis while jamming to the Black Eyed Peas!!! Mind you, all of these games were being played larger than life on our SmartBoard. Our parent's educational dollars at work.

On two other TV screens we had an Xbox pounding away with Madden07 and a Nintendo Wii (actually, the Wii never made it into play mode. One of my student's dad forgot the a connector cable :-( For a wonderfully satirical piece on the Nintendo Wii, check out this article from Wired Magazine, I was almost rolling. For those of you who get Junior Scholastics, there was an article not too long ago about the violent effects of video games on teens. Of course the article was dismissed by 75% of the class.

After watching the glow of the video game lights in the eyes of my students, I realized that many of the kids are enormously engaged with this type of stimulation and interaction. Why not do as the old saying says, "If you can't beat'em, join'em."
This year, I tried using a video game with my class called Discover Babylon and it worked rather well. It was a bit clunky, but was very engaging. Could this be the future of education? Why not! If my students could be as engaged with Ancient Egypt or the War of 1812 as they are with Guitar Hero, I'm all for it!

Who knows...maybe there is future in it for some of our students? Check out this article!

But just like in all things, there must be moderation. There was that group of girls who sat off to the side, content to just watch all the other kids play and whiz their fingers over the fret board of that tiny guitar. What about them? Well, maybe we just haven't found the right game!!

The English Language

An interesting discussion about the use of IM speech on Dave Warlicks 2Cents Worth. I took time first thing this morning and commented on the blog. This turned out to very interesting. Would you ever accept IM speech in a classroom assignment? If not, why? Is it a valid form of speech for the classroom.

I'd like to do a little preliminary advertising for the Lutheran School portal. Later next week, the LSPortal will be releasing a new tab for Technology Leaders. Check it out. New document uploads, news, and forums specifically for tech leaders. Taking the technology discussion to the next level.

Just an observation: Why does it seem to be taking so long for Lutheran schools to join the 21st Century in terms of technology? Wasn't it Luther who utilized one of the greatest major technological advancements in the 15th century...the printing press?

Wiki Collaboration

This week starts an interesting journey for our 8th graders. We have teamed up with a 7th grade study skills class in Hagerstown, MD to collaborate on some wikis. Mrs. Durff, whom I've gotten to know through her classes blogs at Classblogmeister, asked our class to team with hers to create some ten topical wikis. Topics range in subjects from the synoptic gospels to copyright.

We were able to meet face to face over the Lutheran School Portal's Breeze Server. Thanks so much to Perry and Analisa for helping us get going!!

The meeting went very well. Sloppy and unorganized, but as well as could be expected. Really, what would you expect from a group of 7th and 8th graders!
As the conference was underway I began to remember back to all those instructions I'd learned about how to conduct a video conference on the Internet and came to the realization that neither Mrs. Durff, nor myself taught the kids those skills! Oops! You live and learn, much like teaching in the classroom. Trial by error.

One of the over-arching goals of the collaborative project is to do just that...collaborate. One the 21st Century skills that Dave Black has been blogging about, we are trying to put into practice.

In the next blog, I'll post address for the wikis so you can track the progress yourself!