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Barbara Lindsey

My School, Meet MySpace: Social Networking at School | Edutopia - 1 views

  • Months before the newly hired teachers at Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy (SLA) started their jobs, they began the consuming work of creating the high school of their dreams -- without meeting face to face. They articulated a vision, planned curriculum, designed assessment rubrics, debated discipline policies, and even hammered out daily schedules using the sort of networking tools -- messaging, file swapping, idea sharing, and blogging -- kids love on sites such as MySpace.
  • hen, weeks before the first day of school, the incoming students jumped onboard -- or, more precisely, onto the Science Leadership Academy Web site -- to meet, talk with their teachers, and share their hopes for their education. So began a conversation that still perks along 24/7 in SLA classrooms and cyberspace. It's a bold experiment to redefine learning spaces, the roles and relationships of teachers and students, and the mission of the modern high school.
  • When I hear people say it's our job to create the twenty-first-century workforce, it scares the hell out of me," says Chris Lehmann, SLA's founding principal. "Our job is to create twenty-first-century citizens. We need workers, yes, but we also need scholars, activists, parents -- compassionate, engaged people. We're not reinventing schools to create a new version of a trade school. We're reinventing schools to help kids be adaptable in a world that is changing at a blinding rate."
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  • It's the spirit of science rather than hardcore curriculum that permeates SLA. "In science education, inquiry-based learning is the foothold," Lehmann says. "We asked, 'What does it mean to build a school where everything is based on the core values of science: inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection?'"
  • It means the first-year curriculum is built around essential questions: Who am I? What influences my identity? How do I interact with my world? In addition to science, math, and engineering, core courses include African American history, Spanish, English, and a basic how-to class in technology that also covers Internet safety and the ethical use of information and software. Classes focus less on facts to be memorized and more on skills and knowledge for students to master independently and incorporate into their lives. Students rarely take tests; they write reflections and do "culminating" projects. Learning doesn't merely cross disciplines -- it shatters outdated departmental divisions. Recently, for instance, kids studied atomic weights in biochemistry (itself a homegrown interdisciplinary course), did mole calculations in algebra, and created Dalton models (diagrams that illustrate molecular structures) in art.
  • This is Dewey for the digital age, old-fashioned progressive education with a technological twist.
  • computers and networking are central to learning at, and shaping the culture of, SLA. "
  • he zest to experiment -- and the determination to use technology to run a school not better, but altogether differently -- began with Lehmann and the teachers last spring when they planned SLA online. Their use of Moodle, an open source course-management system, proved so easy and inspired such productive collaboration that Lehmann adopted it as the school's platform. It's rare to see a dog-eared textbook or pad of paper at SLA; everybody works on iBooks. Students do research on the Internet, post assignments on class Moodle sites, and share information through forums, chat, bookmarks, and new software they seem to discover every day.
  • Teachers continue to use Moodle to plan, dream, and learn, to log attendance and student performance, and to talk about everything -- from the student who shows up each morning without a winter coat to cool new software for tagging research sources. There's also a schoolwide forum called SLA Talk, a combination bulletin board, assembly, PA system, and rap session.
  • Web technology, of course, can do more than get people talking with those they see every day; people can communicate with anyone anywhere. Students at SLA are learning how to use social-networking tools to forge intellectual connections.
  • In October, Lehmann noticed that students were sorting themselves by race in the lunchroom and some clubs. He felt disturbed and started a passionate thread on self-segregation.
  • "Having the conversation changed the way kids looked at themselves," he says.
  • "What I like best about this school is the sense of community," says student Hannah Feldman. "You're not just here to learn, even though you do learn a lot. It's more like a second home."
  • As part of the study of memoirs, for example, Alexa Dunn's English class read Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh Dumas's account of growing up Iranian in the United States -- yes, the students do read books -- and talked with the author in California via Skype. The students also wrote their own memoirs and uploaded them to SLA's network for the teacher and class to read and edit. Then, digital arts teacher Marcie Hull showed the students GarageBand, which they used to turn their memoirs into podcasts. These they posted on the education social-networking site EduSpaces (formerly Elgg); they also posted blogs about the memoirs.
Dennis OConnor

ALA | Interview with Keith Curry Lance - 0 views

  • A series of studies that have had a great deal of influence on the research and decision-making discussions concerning school library media programs have grown from the work of a team in Colorado—Keith Curry Lance, Marcia J. Rodney, and Christine Hamilton-Pennell (2000).
  • Recent school library impact studies have also identified, and generated some evidence about, potential "interventions" that could be studied. The questions might at first appear rather familiar: How much, and how, are achievement and learning improved when . . . librarians collaborate more fully with other educators? libraries are more flexibly scheduled? administrators choose to support stronger library programs (in a specific way)? library spending (for something specific) increases?
  • high priority should be given to reaching teachers, administrators, and public officials as well as school librarians and school library advocates.
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  • Perhaps the most strategic option, albeit a long-term one, is to infiltrate schools and colleges of education. Most school administrators and teachers never had to take a course, or even part of a course, that introduced them to what constitutes a high-quality school library program.
  • Three factors are working against successful advocacy for school libraries: (1) the age demographic of librarians, (2) the lack of institutionalization of librarianship in K–12 schools, and (3) the lack of support from educators due to their lack of education or training about libraries and good experiences with libraries and librarians.
  • These vacant positions are highly vulnerable to being downgraded or eliminated in these times of tight budgets, not merely because there is less money to go around, but because superintendents, principals, teachers, and other education decision-makers do not understand the role a school librarian can and should play.
  • If we want the school library to be regarded as a central player in fostering academic success, we must do whatever we can to ensure that school library research is not marginalized by other interests.    
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    A great overview of Lance's research into the effectiveness of libraries.  He answers the question: Do school libraries or librarians make a difference?  His answer (A HUGE YES!) is back by 14 years of remarkable research.  The point is proved.  But this information remains unknown to many principals and superintendents.  Anyone interested in 21st century teaching and learning will find this interview fascinating.
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