Oops. Future of education already here; reformers missed it (and so did most teachers)

October 17, 2013

You need to see these slides, from Will Richardson.

First, teachers should send a copy of this to their evaluators, principals, and all other admins up to the superintendent.  Sure, it’s possible they’ll fire you for telling the truth.  But if every teacher in your district did it, they might look at the slides and ponder:  What in the hell do our evaluations and test scores have to do with this new future that is already upon us, and around us, and washing away the foundations of what the state legislature claims we must be doing?

Will Richardson

Will Richardson

Second, this is a model presentation.  Notice how few of the slides are cluttered with words.  Notice those slides with words are easy to read, easy to grasp, and complement and are complemented by a lot of great images.  (One of my students got a less-than-A grade on a PowerPoint presentation in another class, and brought me the evaluation:  “Not enough text,” was one of the criticisms he’d gotten.  That teacher is considered a model by too many administrators.)  It’s not a perfect presentation.  Garr Reynolds would have a lot to say about it.  I’ll wager Richardson’s is better than any other presentation you’ve seen this week, in the content, the depth of information, and the way it’s packaged.  (Would have loved to have seen the presentation . . .)  That is particularly true if you’ve been the victim of teacher professional development sessions in the past week.

There are a lot of slides, partly because so few of them are cluttered by text.  (Don’t know how long the presentation went.)  This presentation would win a case against almost every other slide presentation I’ve ever seen from any law firm, who pay tens of thousands to lawyers to make slide presentations that defy understanding.  The world would be ever so much better were lawyers required to watch this, and compare it with their last presentation.

Third (related to and justifying the first), you need to realize how things have changed in the past year, past five years, past decade, and how we as a society and nation failed to account for those changes, or keep up with them, especially in our public AND private elementary and secondary schools.  Richardson understands the changes, and has some great leads on answers.

This presentation appears to have been a hit.  It seems a few people asked Will Richardson for copies (@WillRich45, www.willrichardson.com), which is why it’s on Slideshare.

Richardson highlights the importance of these thoughts at his blog:

If the recent iPad debacle in Los Angeles teaches us anything it’s that no amount of money and technology will change anything without a modern vision of what teaching and learning looks like when every student and every teacher has access to the Internet. As many of us have been saying for far too long, our strategy to deal with the continuing explosion of technology and connections can’t be to simply layer devices on top of the traditional curriculum and engage in digital delivery. Unfortunately, far too few develop a vision that sees that differently.

*     *     *     *     *

Please note: Technology is integrated throughout these initiatives in ways that serve the vision, not the other way around. This isn’t “let’s give everyone an iPad filled with a lot of textbook and personalized learning apps aimed at improving test scores and then figure out how to manage it.” This is about having important conversations around complex, difficult questions:

  • What will schools look like in the future?
  • What kinds of spaces do we need to support instruction and collaborative work in 5-10 years?
  • How will technology transform curriculum, instruction, and assessment?

And how does it work at your school, teachers?  Students?

We missed the revolution.  The kids are ahead of us.

Can  we catch up?

More:


Imagequilts, with Edward Tufte and Adam Schwartz

September 5, 2013

These are pretty cool.

Can you use them in a classroom?  Some of these Imagequilts pack a lot of information into a small space — such as the one for Cézanne.

Here, “Subatomic Particles“:

Subatomic Particles, by Tufte and Schwartz

Subatomic Particles, by Tufte and Schwartz; click image to see much larger version

Paul Cézanne“:

Paul Cezanne, Imagequilt by Tufte and Schwartz

Paul Cezanne, Imagequilt by Tufte and Schwartz. Useful in art history? European history?

Super Advanced Placement (AP) history teacher John Irish created outstanding PowerPoints showing off art of European eras, or American eras, for use in introducing a unit of history (see a smattering of examples here).  Could these Imagequilts substitute, or do it as well, and — especially — faster?

Here’s another, “Pablo Picasso“:

Imagequilt Pablo Picasso, by Tufte and Schwartz

Imagequilt Pablo Picasso, by Tufte and Schwartz

This one could be particularly useful in a physics course, or a unit on the history of science.  Richard Feynman may be most famous, pedagogically at least, for his invention and use of Feynman Diagrams.  Most discussions simply mention the things, though a few attempt short explanations.  Rare is to find a good example of a Feynman Diagram, to see just what they are and how they work.  Tufte and Schwartz offer a bunch:

Feynman Diagrams, an Imagequilt from Tufte and Schwartz

Feynman Diagrams, an Imagequilt from Tufte and Schwartz (click for a larger image)

Imagequilts is a Chrome App, available for download so you can make your own.  Of course, you’ll need to use Google Chrome to get full effect.

Got any Imagequilts you’d like to share?

More:


No more than 3 points in your presentation!

February 28, 2013

Interesting video from Ethos3, a company that works on presentations and helping others make better presentations.

Um, no, I don’t think they aim at teachers and educators — it’s a for-profit group, not a charity.

That’s also one of my concerns.  Here’s one of a series of short videos Ethos3 prepared, to help you with your next presentation or, you hope, the woman or man who will be making that presentation you have to watch next Wednesday morning at Rotary Club, or at Scout leader training next Saturday, or kicking off the budget planning exercise next Monday (at 7:00 — coffee provided so don’t be late!):

98 views

Generally, I’d agree.

But what about teachers, who have to slog through 150 specific items for the state test?

Observations:

365 Project - Day 29 - I *hate* Powerpoint

Borrowed caption: “365 Project – Day 29 – I *hate* Powerpoint (Photo credit: mike_zellers)”

  1. Teachers could benefit greatly from learning presentation secrets, and making their in-class presentations much more effective.
  2. No school district in America, public, charter, parochial, or homeschool, will give you time to put together such an effective presentation.
  3. Most teachers get no coaching on presentation effectiveness, and their students lose out.
  4. Just because the administrators won’t cut you slack to do it, doesn’t mean a teacher shouldn’t learn about effective presentation techniques, and use them.

In a world of bad bosses, it’s almost impossible to get a really great principal at a school.  Teachers gotta slog on anyway.

You won’t have the time to do the presentation your students deserve, but you should try, anyway.

Dreaming for a minute:  I wish I could get a team like this to help out with designing a curriculum, figuring out where presentation work, how to give them real punch, and where not to use them at all.

What do you think?  Can you tell your story in just three points?  Can you reduce a lecture to three key points that would be memorable, and that spurs students to learn what they need to learn?

More:


Darrell’s corollaries of education + technology: No good work goes unpunished, most opportunities missed

January 27, 2013

Aristotle, and his pupil Alexander

Does this 19th century engraving show the perfect learning situation? Alexander had no iPhone, no laptop; Aristotle used no PowerPoint, no grading machines, not even a chalkboard. Have we come a long way, or is this a measure of how far we’ve fallen? “Aristotle and his pupil, Alexander (c. 340 BCE)” (original source?)

David Warlick‘s blog serves up a lot of stuff to make teachers think (cynically, I wonder whether education administrators can be shoved into thinking at all . . . but I digress).

David Warlick

David Warlick, in a taxi in Shanghai, probably off at some education conference or other.

Recently he pondered his own son’s use of several different kinds of media at once.  In a longer discussion that would be worth your while, someone asked, “Has the nature of information influenced the emerging ‘appropriate technologies’ like the digital learning object called an iBook?”  David responded:

My knee-jerk response is, “Not nearly enough.” This current push toward digital textbooks, urged on by our Secretary of Education, concerns me. I worry that we’re engaged in a race to modernize schooling, rather than a sober and thoughtful imagining and designing of learning materials and practices that are more relevant to today’s learners (ourselves include), today’s information landscape and a future that has lost the comforts of certainty, but become rich with wondrous opportunities.

What I enjoyed, though, about my experience in publishing an iBook was learning to hack some features into the book that were not part of Apples general instructions for using their publishing tool. This is the ultimate opportunity of digital learning objects and environments, that they can be hacked into new and better learning experiences by information artisans who see what’s there and what it can become.

In a cynical mood, I commented on an earlier statement Warlick made, about how technology has changed the education landscape:

“… we live in a time of no unanswered questions.”

BUT:

1.  The internet and especially portable devices have exponentially increased the probability that difficult questions will be answered incorrectly.

2.  For teachers, no longer is it possible to ask a simple, factual question as a teaser to get students to search for the answer, and thereby learn something deeper along the way.  Portable computer devices present one more non-print medium in which education appears to be abdicating its duties, and the war.  (We missed radio, film, television, recorded television, and desk-top computing; now we’re missing portable devices.)

English: Cropped picture of Jaime Escalante

Legendary AP calculus teacher Jaime Escalante; pencil, paper, chalkboard and chalk, maybe a slide rule, made up his technology kit. Photo: Wikipedia

3.  No question goes unanswered, but what is really rare is a question that is worth answering; even more rare, that good question that can be answered well from free internet sources.

Darrell’s Education Technology Corollary:  When administrators and policy makers tell educators (especially teachers) they wish to utilize “new technology,” they mean they want new ways to figure out ways to fire teachers, because they don’t have a clue how technology can be used in education, nor have they thought broadly enough about what education is.

Darrell’s Education Technology Corollary Corollary: When a teacher effectively uses technology in a classroom, it will be at the teacher’s instigation, the teacher’s expense, and administrators will get revenge on the teacher for having done so.

I’ve wondered whether I wasn’t too cynical; David offered a solid response.

A couple of weeks later, my cynicism is growing.  I’m warning you, teachers, you adopt new technologies at your risk, often — especially in some school districts like Dallas ISD.

It’s a caution only.  Teachers, being teachers, will continue to push the envelopes, as Fionna Larcom related at Warlick’s blog.  Good on ‘em.  One out of 500,000 will get accolades outside the education system, like Jaime Escalante did.  Many others will face reprimand.

But if education is to improve, this experimentation by teachers must continue.  So teachers slog on, under-appreciated and often opposed in their attempts to fix things.

Someday a school system will figure out how to unlock teachers’ creativity, knowledge and skills.  Not soon enough.

Teacher in primary school in northern Laos

Teacher in primary school in northern Laos.  Photo: Wikipedia

(Can someone explain to me how Warlick’s blog, with much better stuff than I do here, gets fewer hits?  Teachers, not enough of you are reading broadly enough.)

More, not necessarily the opinion of this blog:


Quick! Vote for Bill Adkins! Get a new printer for his classroom

May 16, 2012

We have a great art department at Molina High SchoolBill Adkins, and his colleagues, pull great work out of kids who too often are not expected to produce good art.

Adkins is in contest to get a fancy printer, based on votes from the internet.  Will you do Mr. Adkins, and especially his students, a great favor and go cast a vote for him right now?  Voting ends today, and he’s in the running but not in first.

Details:

I want to thank Mr. Rhee and Mr. Jones for their efforts encouraging their students to vote for my project.  I also thank the rest of you who have voted to help me win a new printer for the art department.  It’s still a very close race, I’m currently in 3rd place and voting ends tomorrow.  If you haven’t voted yet, I hope you will.  Your students are allowed to vote too.  Just go the this link:  http://www.weareteachers.com/teaching-ideas/grant/teaching-idea?app=24725&grantId=98 and click on vote for me.

Someday schools will provide equipment like this without contests on the internet — but not yet.   A vote for Adkins is a vote for educational excellence.

Thanks!

From an earlier post:


Infographics creation by students, as a tool of learning

May 13, 2012

Infographic-a-Day describes this TEDx video (I added the links):

Perhaps one of the bigest and most listened to advocates of using infographics and data vis in the classroom is Diana Laufinberg, from The Science Leadership Academy. Diana, a History teacher, is a long time user of geographic information systems (GIS). She has recently, however, started helping her students to create their own infographics from complex issues that are part of her course of study and/or part of current events.

Here is a video of Diana’s talk at a recent TEDx…

Tip of the old scrub brush to David Warlick at 2¢ Worth.


Boys’ Life on YouTube, February issue preview

January 21, 2012

Every time I pick up an issue of Boys’ Life I think how much better students could perform if they just looked that this magazine once a month; you don’t have to be a Scout to subscribe, but why not live the adventures, too?

Will 30-second montages sell more magazines?  What more could/should Boys’ Life do on the web?

Here’s an example of the sorts of skills I wish my students had, again from the Boys’ Life YouTube offerings.  In “Cache Me If You Can,” these are young Scouts, I’m guessing ages 11 to about 13 from a Troop 6 somewhere in Colorado, out navigating a path through the woods using GPS and hand-held ham radios.  I fear most of my 16-18-year-old students would be challenged to do the stuff these younger kids are doing, if they could do it at all.

Of course, while those skills would make them better students more able to understand and use maps and charts, very little of those skills are listed in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.  I’m given neither time nor resources to teach them.

More, resources: 

  • A feature at the Boys’ Life site I really like is the “Wayback Machine,” which allows viewing of many issues of the magazine dating back to 1911 — actualy from March 1911 through December 2009.  Alas, the features uses Google Books, so viewing at the site is about all you can do — no copying of the great covers by Boy Scouts of America art director Norman Rockwell, no copying of articles with teachable skills for use as illustrations in lessons.   This would be a good research site for high school history projects — Scouts in time of war, Scouting and education, map use, youth in exploration, etc.

MITx launches — new model for post-secondary learning?

December 22, 2011

We get press releases in the e-mail:

MIT launches online learning initiative

MIT launches online learning initiative

MITx‘ will offer courses online and make online learning tools freely available.

December 19, 2011

Share

MIT today announced the launch of an online learning initiative internally called “MITx.” MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform that will:

  • organize and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • feature interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allow for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

MIT expects that this learning platform will enhance the educational experience of its on-campus students, offering them online tools that supplement and enrich their classroom and laboratory experiences. MIT also expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world.

MIT will couple online learning with research on learning

MIT’s online learning initiative is led by MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, and its development will be coupled with an MIT-wide research initiative on online teaching and learning under his leadership.

“Students worldwide are increasingly supplementing their classroom education with a variety of online tools,” Reif said. “Many members of the MIT faculty have been experimenting with integrating online tools into the campus education. We will facilitate those efforts, many of which will lead to novel learning technologies that offer the best possible online educational experience to non-residential learners. Both parts of this new initiative are extremely important to the future of high-quality, affordable, accessible education.”

Offering interactive MIT courses online to learners around the world builds upon MIT’s OpenCourseWare, a free online publication of nearly all of MIT’s undergraduate and graduate course materials. Now in its 10th year, OpenCourseWare includes nearly 2,100 MIT courses and has been used by more than 100 million people.

MIT President Susan Hockfield said, “MIT has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage MIT coursework should have the opportunity to attain the best MIT-based educational experience that Internet technology enables. OpenCourseWare’s great success signals high demand for MIT’s course content and propels us to advance beyond making content available. MIT now aspires to develop new approaches to online teaching.”

OCW will continue to share course materials from across the MIT curriculum, free of charge.

MITx online learning tools to be freely available

MIT will make the MITx open learning software available free of cost, so that others — whether other universities or different educational institutions, such as K-12 school systems — can leverage the same software for their online education offerings.

“Creating an open learning infrastructure will enable other communities of developers to contribute to it, thereby making it self-sustaining,” said Anant Agarwal, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “An open infrastructure will facilitate research on learning technologies and also enable learning content to be easily portable to other educational platforms that will develop. In this way the infrastructure will improve continuously as it is used and adapted.” Agarwal is leading the development of the open platform.

President Hockfield called this “a transformative initiative for MIT and for online learning worldwide. On our residential campus, the heart of MIT, students and faculty are already integrating on-campus and online learning, but the MITx initiative will greatly accelerate that effort. It will also bring new energy to our longstanding effort to educate millions of able learners across the United States and around the world. And in offering an open-source technological platform to other educational institutions everywhere, we hope that teachers and students the world over will together create learning opportunities that break barriers to education everywhere.”

Read frequently asked questions about MITx

Tip of the old scrub brush to James Darrell.


Economics videos to accompany your class

October 31, 2011

Mary McGlasson at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, has created a series of more than 30 YouTube videos explaining basic economics.  Like this one:

Econ teachers, can you use these on your class websites?  What do you think?


Big cats and laser pointers?

September 20, 2011

Oh, yeah, we know what you teachers do with your fancy laser pointers in the off-hours.  When you’re not torturing your students with Death by PowerPoint, highlighting the vocabulary words, pointing out the routes on the maps, and generally making your students a little jealous of your tools, you take the lasers home to torture your kitties.

If you’re a teacher with a science bent, you might even do a little experimentation:  Do cats chase green lasers, too?  Blue ones?  What about those filters that make starbursts, do they drive cat’s wild?

Ah, but teachers with a science bent, and access to some really big cats . . .

From Big Cat Rescue:

Q: Do Tigers, Leopards & Lions chase laser pointers like domestic cats? Big Cat Rescue decided to find out! …

Do BIG CATS like catnip?? Check out the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tklx3j7kgJY

For more info about BIG CAT RESCUE visit: http://www.bigcatrescue.org
Find us on FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Big-Cat-Rescue-Tampa-FL/122174836956?ref=sgm
MYSPACE: http://www.myspace.com/1bigcatrescue
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/BigCatRescue
DONATE: http://bigcatrescue.com/donate/

THANK YOU!

If you text TIGER to 20222 *A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Standard messaging/data rates may apply. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the Big Cat Rescue by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at http://www.mobilecommons.com/t/. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 20222; HELP to 20222 for help.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science.


Teachers, look! Cheaper, fun way to get giant whiteboards

June 30, 2011

It’s a great idea, but I didn’t even dare think it possible

We’ve had blackboard paint for at least a century.  Teachers at our school sometimes paint their closet doors, or part of a wall, to use as a chalkboard.

I prefer whiteboards, though.

Watching Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nova:  Science Now, I caught a reference to a researcher whose lab walls are all painted with “dry-erase” paint.  (The NOVA piece is the episode on how the brain works; this segment deals with researcher David Eagleman.)

Is that even possible?

Quick answer: Yes!

Check out applications ideas at IdeaPaint’s blog.

Lowe’s carries IdeaPaint, the stuff displayed in the graphic above.  It isn’t as cheap as other paint, but compared to the cost of a whiteboard, it’s pretty good.  RustOleum manufactures a version available at Home Depot and other outlets.  It’s advertised as cheap as $20 per kit online, but runs as high as $40.  One kit covers about 49 square feet (7 feet by 7 feet).  I’ve found at least five different manufacturers of the stuff, with different features.

I haven’t calculated prices (at about $3.25/square foot), but there are also dry-erase skins which can be applied to any wall — with the added advantage that the product claims to be erasable for virtually any marker, including Sharpies® and other permanent markers.   One manufacturer offers skins in clear, to allow underlying paint colors to show through, and white, and says it will match colors on a whole-roll basis (pricey, I’ll wager).

Uses for math and writing should be obvious — think about those mural-sized wall maps in a geography or history class, covered with clear, dry-erase paint . . .

Wouldn’t it be great if school districts had architects, or instruction coaches, who knew about this stuff and could help us keep up in the technology and tool wars/sweepstakes?

More, resources:  

  • Dry-erase painting at Charlestown (state? Massachusetts?) schools:
  • Case study from Milford High, Milford, Massachusetts
  • Case study, Dever-McCormack School, Boston school district
  • Evernote software teams with IdeaPaint . . . look at the video

Common Core of Errors and Nostalgia: Where is the future of education?

May 18, 2011

How do you plan for the future?

Oh, yeah, I know the old story about the ants and the grasshopper.  But it’s really a story about traditional agriculture and the need to look no more than a year ahead, as usually told.  In the classic Aesop version, the moral is about the need to prepare for “days of necessity.”    The story doesn’t say anything about how the ants planned for the advent of DDT, Dieldren or Heptachlor, nor for an invasion of immigrants from Argentina, nor for the paving of the forested field they lived in.

And that’s probably the point.  How do we plan for what we don’t know will happen, for what we cannot even imagine will happen?

In retrospect, much “planning” looks silly.  Bob Townsend, the former head of Avis and American Express, wrote a book years ago that I wish more educators would read today, Up the Organization.  In one of its brief chapters he talks about having been appointed poobah (vice president? managing director?) of “future planning” at one of those corporations, and how proud he was to have the title.  A few days after he got the job his bubble was burst in a most unusual way.  He got home for dinner, and his wife asked him, “What did you plan today?”

(I don’t do the story justice.  Go get a copy and read the story.)

Nancy Flanagan at Teacher in a Strange Land demonstrates the folly that Townsend’s wife brought to light, the folly in thinking we’ve got a good grip on what the future holds, and especially on what skills and education and training will be required to get there:  “Common Core Standards:  A though experiment.”

Soon after the report of the President’s Commission on Excellence in Education came out, and for some years after, there was much worry about just what was the “common core” of knowledge that a modern kid would need, both to be a successful student and prepare for a life of beneficial work, family raising, voting and tax paying.  Tradition and federal law had kept (and still keep) the federal government from writing a national curriculum, leaving that task to the states and local school boards — the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, plus territories of the Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico, and the more than 15,000 local school boards.  There is no national curriculum in the U.S., nor is there agreement from state to state or district to district on just what should be taught.  State standards exist, but they were supposed to be the floor above which students could soar, instead of what they have become, the too-low target at which students really aim in their drive to be good bubble-guessers.

Flanagan has a sharp and entertaining fantasy about what would have happened, if:

So now the Common Core Everything movement is worried about whether schools’ technological capacity is up to the task of constant, computer-driven assessment–and Bill Gates and Pearson are developing the aligned on-line curriculum that you always knew was just around the corner. Soon–all the pieces will be in place, and we’ll be on our way to that One Unified System that we’ve been pursuing for decades. At last. Too bad it’s taken so long…

Just imagine what could be in place if Ronald Reagan had leveraged the political will engendered by the “Nation at Risk” report to get Congress to agree to a set of common standards and tests.

Is it a glorious future?  Well, consider the standards for students to learn about business and communications:

The business career rooms are outfitted with zippy Selectric typewriters and dictation machines–Williams sees girls transcribing the tapes. He is especially pleased with the broadcast studio, where students can read the morning announcements over the public address system, meeting the standard for broadcast media. A group of students is taking French IV via distance learning there, watching a TV lecture, then mailing off their homework and quizzes. Elmwood could only afford one language lab, so Mr. Williams has phased out Latin and Spanish, deciding to offer only French in a four-year block. Rationale: the French Club can travel to France–but his rural students were not likely to meet Spanish-speaking people in the future!

Flanagan’s view is entertaining, and enlightening, even in that short glimpse.  Go read the rest of her fantasy.  If you agree — and you will find it hard not to — can you think of ways to prevent the obvious problems?  Can you think of how we could have dealt with those problems, in 1983 and 1989?  Are we avoiding those problems with our curriculum standards today?

Did any state plan to educate kids on the ethics of real estate deals, so they’d be ready to avoid the real estate bubble, or its bursting?  It’s still true that we are “ready to fight the last war.”

I responded:

Generally I argue, against those who claim any beneficial change in schools is “socialism” and should be fought, that we compete against nations who do better than we do, at least as measured by the international comparison tests — and every nation ranked above the U.S. has a national curriculum. So, I argue, there doesn’t appear to be harm in a national curriculum, per se.

But as you demonstrate, there could indeed be harm in a national curriculum set in stone that is wrong — or even the wrong curriculum set in Jello.

When I did quality work and consulting with big corporations, way back in 19XX, I often used the story about the difference between Nissan and GM on robotics. Nissan was seen as the wave of the future with fancy auto plants with lots of big robots doing high quality work in assembling autos. GM, on the other had, was struggling. GM sank $5 billion or so into a robotized plant in Hamtramck, Michigan — and had to close it down. Couldn’t make it work.

What was the difference?

Nissan used to make fenders by having metalworkers pound them out by hand. Nissan took a few of those workmen, and asked them to search for machines that would make their work easier. Those guys found some stamp presses, got expert on them, and Nissan was off to the races on automation. At each step, the people who actually did the work were brought in to make the next improvements. I saw one interview of a guy running several massive robots, and the interviewer asked what sort of education he’d gotten to get to that point. He said he’d started out pounding fenders with a hammer and anvil, years earlier.

GM saw those robots in that plant, and bought a whole plantful of them. When the robots were installed in Michigan, they began the search for people to run the machines, unfortunately having to let go a lot of the people who ran the old stamping machines, because they lacked the “necessary background.”

What is the equivalent front line worker in education today? What is the “necessary background?” Impose that on your story, you could get some good results.

By the way, I was handicapped greatly by my high school education. We didn’t have enough advanced math students to get a calculus class going. So I couldn’t get calculus. But, the district said, they had purchased a brand new machine to get going in “computer math.” It was a card compiler. Students could learn to punch IBM computer cards, and that would give them a leg up in the computer world . . .

35 years later, my kids needed help with their calculus homework. They took some of my old debate cards, on old [computer] punch cards, to school for show and tell. Antiques. ( I didn’t have any programs to send — I couldn’t fit the computer math into the schedule opposite “student council;” my counselor advised me to drop out of student council for computer math, a decision I probably would have regretted in my years in Washington.)

I spoke with one of my high school English teachers last year — she’s the doyen of the computer lab today, an after-retirement job.  Turns out the computer lab really needed someone who could teach kids to write, someone who knows grammar and a bit about reading and judging sources for research papers.

What did you “plan” today?


Yellowstone, Land to Life — a film to free from bondage

March 20, 2011

Yes, it’s a tease.  Drat.  Just a trailer for the film.

But how exquisite is just the trailer!

Yellowstone National Park Orientation Film (excerpt) from Northern Light Productions on Vimeo.

Northern Light Productions made the film for the “Canyon Visitor Education Center in Yellowstone National Park. The film offers a compelling overview of the ‘big picture’ geology that has shaped and continues to influence Yellowstone and its ecosystem.”

Big picture geology?  How about making this film available to schools to talk about geology, geography, and history?

Yellowstone National Park annually gets about three million visitors.  Yellowstone is one of those places that ever American should see — but at that rate, it would be more than 100 years before everybody gets there.

We need good, beautifully shot, well-produced, interesting films on American landmarks in the classroom.

How do we get this one freed for America’s kids, Yellowstone Park?


Latitude and Longitude in two minutes

March 3, 2011

Teachers, can you use a video that covers latitude and longitude in just over two minutes?

A good idea, generally, from Matt Rosenberg (a better idea without “autoplay”) — a few more videos at Ask.com Geography.

[Editor's note:  I've put the video below the fold because I can't find an easy way to turn off the autoplay command.  My apologies to anyone bothered by the problem.]

Read the rest of this entry »


Mapping Australia’s history, in a .gif

February 27, 2011

Interesting .gif from Wikipedia:

History of Australia, in a map on a .gif

Political boundaries in Australia, and their changes

I like using such .gifs in PowerPoints, just one more way to add some interest and a lot more information to a session of “direct instruction.”  Do you know of other .gifs that could be used for U.S. history, or other history courses?  Please list them in comments.

Especially let us know if you find errors in this one.

Or errors in this one, which covers deeper time:

History of Autralian political boundaries, from discovery by Europeans

History of Autralian political boundaries, from discovery by Europeans


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,190 other followers

%d bloggers like this: