Martin Luther--A New Look!

One of the greatest uses of technology is allowing students the freedom to express their learning in many different ways. Check out this video from YouTube and tell me if these students understand the the Reformation? Reformation Rap Battle: Martin Luther v. Pope Leo X

I recognize that there is a bit of vulgarity in the rap (which within itself is a bit odd because of the content!). Undoubtedly these high school students understand many of the political and religious overtones of the protestant reformation. Could this knowledge have been assessed in a different way? Could they have written an essay? Taken a multiple choice test? Created a poster comparing and contrasting the views in question? Sure, but which assessment made a greater impact on these students? What other "secondary skills" did these students learn and develop in the process of creating this video.

That brings up a good point: Should secondary skills really be "secondary" anymore? Is video/sound/photo editing a skill worthy of regular student consumption? As teachers, how much freedom do we give students to take side trips in education to learn skills that don't necessarily meet curriculum goals, but are still worthy of learning?

Probably more important than learning the skill, is teaching students to think about the skills they are learning. I can't really quote a spefic source because this topic of metacognition has been in so many conversations. The future in education will not so much be about content and knowledge as it will be about teaching students to be good learners. How do students learn something, unlearn something, and learn something new again. These will be the valued, flexible skills of the future!

BUT...what happens when the content you are learning is TRUTH? Now here is where the distinction line is drawn in relation to teaching the Christian faith! That sounds like a blog topic for a different day :-)

Give'm Something to talk about!

I was listening to a podcast from Wes Fryer's Speed of Creativity, which is a keynote from the SITE 2007 conference, when the keynote speaker,Roger Schank, played this clip from stand-up comedian Father Guido Sarducci. He said the clip is about is about 30 years old and is amazingly still appropriate.

The longer I've been teaching, the more I'm starting to realize the value of "great" education and highly skilled teachers. Are we providing the best education possible to our kids in Lutheran schools. We tend to be slow developers when it comes to adopting new waves in education (for good reason sometimes). But I don't think the new uses of technology and the increased emphasis on 21st Century Learning Skills is a new fad. They are here to stay.

What are your schools doing about it??

A long time coming!

The last article I wrote was from the last week in March and that feels like a web eternity! It's not for a lack of having things to discuss :-) On the contrary, there are so many conversations I'd like to have that I can't quite seem to fit them all in.

For example, I got to really sit down over Easter with my wife's cousin's husband (say that 10x fast!) who teaches at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Jon is a Professional Development Specialist and Instructor in the Agriculture Education Program. I didn't even know that was there was a preparatory program for Ag. Education?

Jon quickly forgave my ignorance and we had a wonderful conversation about how technology has improved and hindered the Ag. Ed programs at UM-Columbia. Jon's PhD. thesis covered cognitive theory in Ag education(or something along those lines). We talked about the change in Bloom's Taxonomy(Another Bloom's Link) and how Ag Ed. naturally lends itself to teaching higher order thinking skills, critical thinking skills, and extensive processing skills. All those fun things that can be facilitated through technology.

Jon talked about how his graduate students are receiving professional development through pod/vodcasts and how he'd like to be able to observe students doing practicum work using a webcam. Again, my ignorance kicked in and I thought, "Wow, all this great teaching and learning in an Ag. Ed. dept." Thanks for setting me straight, Jon!

The theme that came up time and time again in our conversation was the necessity for great teachers. It doens't matter how much technology you have, how many PowerPoints your students have done, or how you are using the technology. Without a great teacher in the room, the technology will be wasted and the PowerPoints will be nothing more than "PowerPointlessness" (a term I first encountered in a keynote by Jamie McKenzie).

Great Teachers + Sound pedagogy = Student Acheivement

That is successful teaching!!

Imagine what happens if we teach those "Great Teachers" how to collaborate with others using a wiki? Create blogs where students are engaged in authentic writing? Producing finished podcasts for audiences beyond the walls of their small schools?

As Dr. Suess put it, "Oh, the places you'll go!"

Something to think about.