Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
I've been asked many times to join book clubs, and my initial reluctance, and final decision to decline, have always surprised friends and acquaintances. After all, I love to read, spend much too much time in libraries and bookstores, and am not shy about expressing my views about the war in Iraq or healthcare legislation.
I've thought a lot about my hesitation to discuss books publicly, and I believe I don't enjoy the discussion format because I find it uncharacteristically difficult to articulate and communicate my thoughts about a book to a group. For one thing, a book's "theme" sometimes becomes secondary to me when I'm reading. I love language and words and frequently find myself so caught up in the way the author writes that I ignore the story line altogether. I can spend ten minutes mentally celebrating a turn of phrase by Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro, for example, marveling at their ability to use the English language to express the exact nuance of meaning they intend.
Discussing a book as part of a group interrupts and disturbs my inner dialogue, too. The books I most enjoy allow me to ponder at length, and often revise, my personal value system. When I read Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards, I spent hours re-evaluating my beliefs about right and wrong and the importance of self-respect. Somehow, talking with others about the feelings associated with such insights makes me uncomfortable.
Book clubs can help many people find meaning in the monthly selections they might not have gleaned on their own. For me, however, private contemplation is more satisfying, so I'll continue my love affair with books on my own.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Google Apps for Education - Rating Our Transition - The Mistakes
Google Apps for Education - Rating Our Transition - The Good
Google Workshop for Educators
Successful Deployments for Educational Institutions
Google Apps Education Community
Independent Schools Educators Network - Moving to Google Apps
Castilleja School: Moving to Google for Educators
RSU 19: Google Apps in Action
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Backlash Against Broadband Stimulus in Maine
WetMachine: Fairpoint Tries to Scuttle Maine Broadband Stimulus Package
Maine Legislature Bills: HP1198, LD 1697, An Act to Protect Universal Service
Broadbank DSL Reports: Fairpoint Still Has Enough Cash for Anticompetitive Lobbying
GWI Requests Fairpoint Investigation
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
By the way, the people at Lubec School are incredibly welcoming, friendly, caring, and enthusiastic. I love small schools! :)
Being a user of the many excellent Google tools, but not having seen the special "Educators" version that allows local administration, I probably learned as much as I taught, thanks to expertise of Ed, Dawn, and Larry (the amiable and extremely helpful local technical guy). I was impressed at the incredible free opportunities in this package for school systems. I drove 4 1/2 hours home to Western Maine wondering why all schools didn't make use of this user-friendly and powerful set of tools. With their well-integrated web applications, the good people at Google have done away with the clunkiness of many of the learning environments that I've experienced . They have done away with much of the top-down control issues and put the ubiquitous system directly in the hands of teachers and principals. Why would anyone use anything else?
What other Maine SAU's are using this in their school?
See Google Applications at LIM Resources
Google Apps for Education
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Teaching literacy skills is fundamental to our educational system. Literacy skills are traditionally defined as reading and writing. We now teach kids to have computer literacy as well, and to some extent we extend that to math and science, though using the word literacy is more loosely attached to each of these.
Communication skills are generally not discussed in terms of literacy, although they are acknowledged as important in curriculum and educational standards. Many states, including my state of Maine, have developed a set of educational standards that include communication skills. These standards, representing skills deemed essential, are part of what we call the Learning Results and serve as guides for educating our children in today’s world.
On close inspection we discover that communication skills as defined by these standards generally mean learning to write clearly and coherently and to present reports orally. Both are important. Arts educators have broadened the definition of communication to include other forms of expression, namely visual art, music, drama, and dance, which are equally important forms of communication.
However, there is still an essential missing ingredient: interpersonal communication. While many colleges have communication departments that offer courses in this area, the art and science of interpersonal communication is not a subject in our public education system, which does not seem to recognize the fundamental importance of this type of literacy. Why are interpersonal communication skills missing from the mix?
We are in, more or less, a constant state of interpersonal communication—relating person to person around the ordinary and complex human transactions in our daily lives. Talking and listening are so natural that we take them for granted. We learn to talk and listen by cultural osmosis—we simply absorb the language in our environment through a predisposition for language in our brains. However, we also know how profoundly complex the process really is.
Learning effective interpersonal communication skills is not about having a broad vocabulary or solid grasp of grammar. Both are helpful but not essential for achieving understanding between individuals. I grew up with people speaking what is commonly called broken English. That’s an old- fashioned term when English is a second language. In spite of this limitation, many people in this category are very effective communicators because interpersonal communication is a complex, multi-dimensional process involving words, feelings, gestures, images and much more.
I believe it is imperative that we take the issue of interpersonal communication more seriously as it is the life blood of human relationships. We are social, relational beings. We require effective interpersonal communication to transact the business of our daily lives at work and at home, to nurture our children, and to develop emotional intimacy in our most personal relationships. All these areas are vastly improved with more knowledge about ourselves and more skill in listening, observing, organizing thoughts, accounting for emotion, developing rapport, and using words effectively.
Should interpersonal communication be taught as a discreet subject or should it be infused into virtually every subject? What are the core competencies we would expect? How would we go about teaching something so ordinary? Many questions need exploring if we take this issue seriously. It is a false argument to question whether effective interpersonal communication is more important than effective written communication. But right now writing skills are getting far greater attention in our education system.
So let’s, yet again, broaden our definition of developing literacy and communication skills to include interpersonal communication.
There really is no question about how important a matter this is.
Bob Keteyian is an interpersonal communication consultant and counselor. He is also the author of Do You Know What I Mean?—Discovering Your Personal Communication Style (2009).
National Day of Listening
Bob at Bangor Daily News
See also Non-Verbal Communition at LIM Resources
Monday, January 11, 2010
G.O.T. Farms Website
"Wagon Wheel" - Telstar Faculty
Melissa's "On Using Wordpress"
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Maine K-12 STEM Ed Report Card
The Maine STEM Collaborative Conference - January 29th, 2010 - Agenda & Register
Maine DOE Science and Technology Page
Obama Unveils Projects to Bolster STEM Teaching
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
1 to 1 Schools Blog
One to One Institute (Ning)
District Administration: Are One-to-One Laptop Programs Worth the Investment?
Steve Hargadon: The Truth about 1:1 Laptop Progams
The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change by Mark E. Weston and Alain Bain
"The economic motive has always figured in the spread of mass education in the United States, but recently it has predominated, edging out all the other reasons we send kids to school: civic, social, ethical, developmental." ~ Mike Rose
There is big money involved in the federal education grant program, Race to the Top (RttT). States across the land, including Maine, are scrambling to pass legislation that will put them in contention for an infusion of funding. The requirements are:
--Turn around the lowest-achieving schools.
--Create competitive academic standards and tests that prepare students for college and the work force.
--Build data systems to track students from grade to grade.
--Connect teacher and principal salaries to student performance.
--Loosen caps on charter schools.
Question: Are we selling our souls for money?
President Dwight Eisenhower had the following to say about local control of education:
"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens."
In the end, does more data ever improve our lives? See Neil Postman's "Informing Ourselves to Death."
" . . . It is all the same: There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory." ~ Postman
Do we want corporations and technocrats to determine how and what our children learn? See the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Check out who is - and who isn't - on the boards.
When it comes to turning around lowest-achieving schools and connecting teacher and principal pay to student performance, have we forgotten about this side of the equation:
What are your thoughts?
How to Create Workers, Not Citizens - the Frustrated Teacher
Bridging Differences: The New Era of Greed
NEA: Race to the Top = The Demise of Teaching
Schools Matter: Calling Out Harvard's Graduate School of Education
Reforms of Least Resistance
All Innovation Short of Charter Schools
Starting to Race to the Top
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Madeline Hunter Biography
Wikipedia: Madeline Cheek Hunter
The Madeline Hunter Direct Instruction Model
Madeline Hunter's Lesson Plan
EduTech Wiki: Madeline Hunter Method
Adprima: Direct Teaching - Information and Links
Madeline Hunter's ITIP Model for Direct Instruction
Monday, January 4, 2010
By Pam Kenney
Beginning this month I will be part of a group that will review the K-12 Common Core Math Standards. The standards come from the Common Core State Standards Initiative, “a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief School State Officers.” Their purpose is to delineate the knowledge and skills students should acquire to succeed in both college and workforce training programs. Rigorous content and the application of knowledge through high-order skills, international benchmarks, and an insistence on evidence- and/or research-based criteria are their hallmarks.
To prepare for my role in the review process, I have spent many hours the past three weeks reading and thinking about the K-8 math standards from several states. To date, I’ve pored over standards from Massachusetts, California, Indiana, Washington, and Maine. I chose Massachusetts because it has had the highest NAEP fourth and eighth grade math scores in the nation for the last several years, Maine because it’s my home state, and the others because they were recommended to me as examples of states with particularly strong standards. As I read the state documents, I compared the broad strands that organize their mathematical content, the concepts under each strand, and the more specific skills that guide day-to-day classroom instruction.
All the states have basically the same strands through the eighth grade, although they may be grouped in different ways. The five strands in the Massachusetts document are representative: Number Sense and Operations; Patterns, Relations, and Algebra; Geometry; Measurement; and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability. The concepts related to the strands are similar, too. For example, the first concept listed under the strand “Number Sense” in California’s Grade Two standards is “Students understand the relationship between numbers, quantities, and place value in whole numbers up to 1,000.” All the state standards I read had a similar concept.
The final and most detailed level of the states’ K-8 standards encompasses the specific skills that students must acquire over a one- or two-year period. And it is here that significant differences among the states appear. Some states write their standards using verbs such as “count’, “identify”, “know”, and “compare”, which allow the standards to be measured objectively. Others employ “understand” and “use.” How states teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts under the “Number Sense and Operations” strand is particularly noteworthy. In Massachusetts, California, Indiana, and Washington students are required to memorize facts through 10 or 12. In Maine, fact mastery is not required by its Maine Learning Results’ standards. In Maine, students learn a variety of methods to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, and the use of standard algorithms is not mandated. In the other state standards I read, children must learn standard algorithms, although several methods for solving problems are taught, too.
The use of technology differs among the states, also. In Maine, for example, calculators are an integral part of elementary school math instruction, and students can use them daily to solve problems as well as on standardized tests. In other states, such as Massachusetts, students “learn how to perform thoroughly the basic arithmetic operations independent of the use of a calculator.” In addition, the fourth and sixth grade state assessments in Massachusetts do not allow the use of calculators.
Overall, I found significant differences among the state standards I read. Maine is intensely focused on its students acquiring a thorough understanding of concepts and procedures, so focused that it allows technology to compensate for the absence of basic fact mastery. Massachusetts, California, Indiana, and Washington have math standards that offer an excellent balance between understanding concepts and fluent computation. Massachusetts has the highest test scores in the nation. Maine’s math scores, though, are higher than California’s, Indiana’s, and Washington’s.
I’d love to be able to write that I’ve drawn some far-reaching conclusions from my reading of the five different state standards. I can’t do that, but I have decided that balanced standards will help our nation produce better math students in the future than we are producing today. Standards that are clear, detailed, rigorous, and measurable and that require fluency in basic computational skills, an understanding of mathematical concepts, and the acquisition of problem-solving skills that focus on reasoning, communicating, and connecting are what we should strive for. As I review the K-12 Common Core Math Standards, that’s what I’ll be looking for.