Thursday, March 31, 2011

Khan Academy - almost a school reform

What I got from the Khan Academy TED talk (TedxNJ video not out yet) is that he wants to change education by giving students just in time learning.
Do you want to know how to solve this type of problem, cool here’s the video. You will remember it because you choose to watch the video when you realized that you have to know how to do stuff for homework. It is better than the teacher lecture because students only watch when they think, “Shiznit  I need to know how to do this to do my homework”.
With the teacher directed lecture the student sits through the lecture is bored and tunes out. When homework comes around s/he says, “Dagnabitt I should have paid attention during class”.
They still tune in and out of the Khan video, but they have the option of going back to the step they missed and re-learning it.
Khan works better than teacher lecture because students watch the video just before doing the homework, then they watch bits and pieces of it over and over again while doing homework until they get it right. (if they care enough about doing homework).
I’ve seen teachers do this on a regular basis in schools for year. They lecture for half the class period then give students the rest of the time to do homework. Students are to raise their hands if they have questions? This actually, works better than the Khan video (when the students aren’t busy talking about relationships instead of doing homework) because the teacher can explain in an alternate way.
In the end the result is the same, students learn math by practicing procedures over and over again until it sticks in their memory. 

What would I do different? Well I would probably show the video after the lesson as a summary or something, but that isn't the important part. The important thing is how would you use the videos?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Teachers Like Us Support Unions

I’ve been very disappointed in unions in the past. As a public school teacher and union member I earn about two thirds the pay I was making for a private education company. My health benefits are worse and I pay more for them. My office went from modern office space with ample access to all kinds of technology to a 100 year old building retrofitted to use electricity. My co-teachers are jealous of my laptop and my 3g internet, both for the unfettered internet and the actual access in all parts of the building.

So I am disappointed in my union for not getting the pay, health care, or working conditions I deserve, but I have never wanted to get rid of them. I recognize that if I do my job well enough, I will, at some point in time have someone asking for my head on a plate.

It’s simple I have a room full of other peoples children. I am supposed to do my best to make sure all of them meet a set of specific standards. At times some will and some won’t meet these standards. At some time or another I will fail to please either a student, a parent, or an administrator and sometimes all three. It's then that I will need someone behind me saying, no you cannot fire this person for doing his job.

It is true that of the hundreds of students who pass through my classroom there will be some who would have done better with another teacher. It is also true that there are some who could never have done better. All I really know for sure is that I do my best.

I take the time to practice my craft on a regular basis. I take the time to get to know my students and tailor my work to fit their needs as much as possible. I communicate with parents and administrators on a regular basis. I keep detailed records of what I intend to do and what has happened in my classroom. I do my best to educate all of my children. All I ask is that I be allowed to do my job and that means I need a union.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Collaborative Study

Happy St. Patrick's day everyone.

I was watching a video at the Learning Today blog

I thought the idea of Open Study was a pretty good one and I wanted to share it right away.

We were just talking the other day about using facebook, or a blog to share homework for students so they can get it at home.

Open Study is a site that allows students to connect with and get help from students around the world in the subjects they are having trouble with.

I thought if we can get our students to connect with each other using their facebook log on and Open Study they can help each other with their homework. 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here is a way we can include technology in the curriculum.
Sometimes it's pretty sometimes not. The hope though is that by giving students the opportunity to publish their work to the entire world they will do work that is authentic.
Here's what I did.
I created a google site. Then I created a form for visitors (remember the quiz) to rate student work. I embedded it all and added a picassa gallery of student work.

Is this the best work my students can do? For most I don't think so. I hope though with a good response that next time they will do better.
With that thought in mind please take a couple of moments to rate some of our students work.