Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

BPS Blog Update (Volume 9) - Helping Parents Support Summer Reading

Maybe it's because they have just finished two-legs of horse racing's triple crown (with the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness completed), but all I can think of right now is... 'Down the stretch they come!"  

It is unbelievable that we  are under 20 school days left in our school year and will be into June next week. With this in mind, I wanted to share a great post from Pernille Ripp about helping parents support summer reading for their children. Pernille, a 7th grade teacher in Wisconsin, has some great advice for the parents of students at all grade levels in her post 
Parents – How to Help Your Child Love Reading Over the Summer.  I encourage you to share it with all of your parents in the closing weeks. If you are looking for a great read for the summer yourself, then I encourage you to check out Pernille's Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students

Here are the latest posts on the Burlington Blog...

Day 141 - What We’re Up To: Quizlet Live! - Ms. Mirabella - MSMS Foreign Language



Only 20 posts to go...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (May 22, 2016)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (May 15, 2016)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Technology Addiction, It's Not Just For Kids


Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 10.51.48 AM.png
We saw another round of alarming headlines last week decreeing the downfall of our current crop of teenagers due to their addiction to mobile technology. These headlines were prompted by a new report from Common Sense Media about technology addiction and teenagers.  The report,  Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy and Finding Balance, was all over the news with countless headlines like Smartphone Addiction Rampant and Half of All Teenagers Are Addicted to Their Smartphones. While the headlines are accurate, they do not tell the entire story.

These negative headlines are great if they are click-bait intended to get adults reading beyond the bad news and raise awareness about how we can constructively deal with concerns about technology-use and teens. Unfortunately, the general theme coming from the media reports over the past few years has been to sound alarms and not to focus on a more modern perspective and all of the possibilities that go along with it. Thankfully, Common Sense Media provides a balanced approach to this conversation in the report.

However, schools also need to step forward and be part of the movement to let families know that all screen time is not created equal. As school leaders strive to add more instructional technology resources to their classrooms, they also must ensure that parents are kept in the loop about what their students are doing with digital devices to support their learning. We must be clear that our goal is to choose the best instructional resources that fit the needs of the learner at a given moment. Sometimes the right choice may be a digital resource and sometimes it will not. More importantly, we need to talk about when and why certain digital resources are appropriate. We also need to encourage adults to do the same thing regarding the choices they make surrounding the use of technology for their children and themselves.

Despite the fact that it did not make the headlines, a quick look below at some of the research from the Common Sense Media study shows that the problems surrounding the constructive use of technology are just as significant for parents as they are for students. Then again, these stories are being written by adults. I wonder if the headlines would be different if thet were written in a student publication...

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 3.29.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 3.30.02 PM.png
The bottom line is the following statement from the report:
"Embracing a balanced approach to media and technology, and supporting adult role-modeling, is recommended to prevent problematic media use."
For school leaders, this starts with us. Let's foster open and honest conversations about the struggles everyone in our school community is having keeping technology in its proper place.  Let's share strategies that are working for families who are finding success staying connected to the world both digitally and in-person. It is clear that there is a role for us in this conversation if we are willing to take it.  So let's look at the conclusion of the report and commit to discussing the following two recommendations as a starting point:

  • Talk About It -  Connect with your kids and support learning by talking about what they're seeing, reading, and playing. Encourage kids to question and consider media messages to better understand the role media plays in their own lives. 
  • Walk the Walk -  Lead by example by putting your own devices away while driving, at mealtimes, and during family time. Parent role-modeling shows kids the behavior and values you want in your home. Kids will be more open and willing participants when the house rules apply to you, too.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Let Students Veer From the Old Path

This post originally appeared on my Education Week Blog

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 9.06.59 PM.png
I recently stumbled across a blog post from Jason Kottke titled The invention of the jump shot.  As someone who has both played and coached basketball, I was intrigued a bit about the fact that there was actually a time when people shot the basketball without their feet leaving the floor.  I couldn't help wondering what caused the change from the set shot to the jump shot.  

My curiosity led me to an article by Brad Botkin of CBS Sports titled, Birth of the Jump Shot Botkin detailed the story of Kenny Sailors, a guard from the University of Wyoming who took the first jump shot on record in a college basketball in 1942 during a game at Madison Square Garden. However, this trivial tidbit does not tell the story of why Sailors created the jump shot. This all happened a few years earlier when Kenny was just 13 and he was routinely getting his shots knocked back at him by his older brother Bud. Kenny, just 5-foot-8, needed a new plan to get a shot up over his 6-foot-5 brother.  What followed of course was the jump shot.

However, what interested me as much as the ingenuity of the 13-year old boy who orchestrated the jump shot was the reaction of his older brother upon seeing this new tactic used against him. Here is an excerpt from Botkin's article where Kenny describes Bud's reaction:
Bud said to me, 'Kenny, that's a pretty good shot. You ought to try to develop that.' So from that point forward, that's pretty much what I did. I worked on that shot every chance I got."
I can't help thinking that if Bud had laughed his little brother off the court or chastised him for trying something so outlandish that Kenny would never have taken that shot at Madison Square Garden some eight years later.  Where would the game of basketball be today?  Interestingly enough, the jump shot still took some time to take off as a mainstream basketball move. In 1963, over 20 years after Kenny's historic shot, Hall-of-Famer Bob Cousy said the following prior to his final game with the Boston Celtics:
"I think the jump shot is the worst thing that has happened to basketball in ten years." Cousy's objections? "Any time you can do something on the ground, it's better." 
As R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly echoes in my head, I have to smile at the irony in the fact that an innovative basketball player like Bob Cousy did not see the possibilities in the jump shot. What does this have to do with education?  Like young Kenny Sailors, we need to move past the traditional mindset that got us to this point. History is full of examples of talented people like Bob Cousy who did not see the changes that were on the horizon. Let me remind you a few:
"Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." - Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946  
"There is no reason that anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olson - the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
My final example is a bit of a challenge, fill in the blank on the following quote and then guess who said it...
 "_________ will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories." - ?
If you guessed the name of any 21st Century educator worrying about the impact of Google searches by his or her students then you are exactly...wrong. It was Socrates sometime around 400 BC worrying about the impact that writing was going to have on young scholars.

Of course this immediately brings to mind current disagreements about whether or not our students should be reading real books instead of digital books or whether they should take notes by hand instead of on a device.   Maybe these are bad exammples. However, the one point I want to make is that we need to allow our students to veer from the path that we have taken. We need to be cautious about holding onto outdated traditions with white knuckles because they are what we are most comfortable with or because it worked for us. The bottom line is that this type of thinking will be to the detriment of our students. Most importantly, when we see our students trying new things that may be a bit unorthodox, we need to consider saying what Bud Sailors said to his little brother Kenny - "That's pretty good. You should develop that."

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (May 8, 2016)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.