Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This weeks resource is crowdsourcing, which isn't in spell check yet. Crowdsourcing is people coming together and doing bits and pieces of a task and the final project is something splendid to behold. It is I think the essence of what is known as Web 2.0 and in my opinion the real power of using technology in education. The biggest example of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia. Any English teacher will tell you that Wikipedia by itself is not a valid source of information, however it is a great place to start research.

With that caveat in mind I suggest to you the Diigo bookmarking site. This site allows you to bookmark any site online so that you can access the site at any time from any Internet connected computer. The site also lets you add tags to sites so you can find the site again even when you bookmarked it two years ago and just vaguely remember why. Finally, and why it is crowdsourced, Diigo also lets you network with friends and join groups. A quick search of their groups shows 1432 different math based groups. I will suggest one group Math Links by Darren Kuropatwa because he is someone I know supplies some great resources for math teachers.

The power of crowdsourcing allows us to stop randomly searching for useful web sites on the Internet and start searching links recommended by actual humans. There may still be a bunch of junk to filter out, but hopefully there is less of it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

JHU Assignment Leadership and Change

  Michael Fullan writes about some of the problems of schools in his chapter “Understanding Change” of the Jossey-Bass reader. First there is the problem of managing change because “many of us have concluded that change cannot be managed.” (p. 173) Then after change is first implemented there is usually an “implementation dip” (p. 175). In his book School Leadership that Works Marzano explains that type II problems are those “for which no clear-cut solution is available.” … while type III problems are those “for which current ways of thinking do not provide a solution.”(p. 66) A school with positive culture is ready to face the inevitable problems that come with reform.

Part of what makes positive school culture is a sense of empowerment. Teachers and staff feel empowered to make decisions and take actions based on the shared vision. Therefore they don’t wait for instruction from the principal. What works is shared and what doesn’t work is dropped.

When teachers begin to feel empowered they stop blaming schools or making excuses for how bad our school is and start taking action to make it better. As the blog I found yesterday so eloquently puts it “I feel we need to get beyond the system is broken kind of thinking and focus on what is working. We see what we look for and if we keep focusing on a broken system we will only succeed in creating more broken system.”

First order change, which includes type I problems that have standard solutions, and type II problems “for which no clear-cut solution is available” require a leader who is competent but emphasizes incremental change while staying focused on keeping the current culture and focus. Second order change then would be type III problems requiring completely changing current ways of thinking.

According to Marzano the three responsibilities most important in first order and second order change are Monitoring/Evaluating, Ideals/Beliefs, and Knowledge of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. (p. 72)

Monitoring/Evaluating is logical, as we have learned before that the most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback. (Marzano, 2005, p. 55). It isn’t much of a jump to learn that during time of great change it is important to continually give your staff feedback on what they are doing and how well they are doing it.

It is important to keep consistent with ideals/beliefs. There is a big change going on and it will be worse before it gets better. The staff needs to know that what they are doing may seem to be making stuff worse, but the ultimate goal will be better. All they are experiencing at the moment is the implementation dip.

Most reforms are concentrated on improving academics. What worked 50 years ago may not be what works today, it may not have actually worked for all students then either but because it was easier to hide failure or poor performing students. There are many teachers who are going to resist change because they feel that they have been successful in the past. A through knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment will give a leader many options for bringing those teachers onto the reform bandwagon in ways that they can accept.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Philosophy Without A Home: Thesis from 2000

Philosophy Without A Home: Thesis from 2000