Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Snow as a metaphor for learning

One might suggest that I like this video because it's 90 degrees outside my window today.


But that's not it at all.

I saw this video today as part of a presentation by Michael Wesch. He talked about how education should inspire a sense of wonder.

Watch that video of snow in Wellington again. Look at the surprise, the wonder, on the faces of the people there.

Does our teaching inspire a sense of wonder?

Does our teaching create within our students a desire to find answers?

It should.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

School's Out

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The school year ended today in Novi. Students at Novi Woods boarded the bus for one final trip home this morning. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What the search for technology says about us

In the New York Times an article appeared about using computer programs to evaluate writing. After all, we know what good writing looks like. It has complete sentences. Punctuation is in the right place. Verbs are used appropriately. The spelling is accurate.

When you thin about it, it's just an algorithm. Create the right formula and a computer can read and evaluate any paper.

But can it?

I can understand why we want to find a computer program to evaluate writing. Evaluating writing takes time. People get tired. A computer could grade hundreds of papers and never get sleepy. A computer could go all night.

It would not be unusual for two people to judge a writing selection differently.

Computers would not be swayed by emotion. If a paper fits the system then it gets a high grade.

But there is something deeply unsettling about using technology to grade a paper. Why?

Can a computer program - can an algorithm - evaluate the depth of an idea?

Can an algorithm evaluate creativity?

Would an algorithm capture the power of the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech?

Would an algorithm tend to make writing more similar - to fit the formula - when what we really want is an algorithm that would encourage creativity, original thinking, and passion?

Maybe we are searching for an algorithm to evaluate writing because most of what we want students to write is not worth reading.

It's not that our students don't have things to say for they do.

Could it be that what we ask students to produce is rather dull. If that's the case then maybe having an algorithm evaluate it would be appropriate. I could save my time to read things that inspire and challenge. I could save my time to read things that make me think or look at things differently.

My students can write those things.

I'm just not sure that an algorithm would be able to evaluate the good stuff.

Celebration at Village Oaks

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4th grade students and parents celebrate today at Village Oaks. These students are ready for 5th grade at Meadows!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Was Yoda right all along?

Yoda, the enigmatic teacher in the Star Wars movies, once said, "There is no try, only do."

Does that mean the only two options that we have in life are success or failure?

I talked with a principal this week and she said, "I feel like a failure."

I listened as she told me all the things that she had done in a particular situation. She did all the right things. Unfortunately, the situation did not improve.

Does that mean she was a failure?

Or is there another option?

Is there a "it just did not work out but you did all the right things" option?

I think there is. There are times when things go wrong. There are times when things don't improve. But, in retrospect, I don't think I would have done anything differently.

Maybe I am making excuses. Maybe it is just the end-of-the-school-year blues that are dragging me down. But I really believe that, at times, I can do the right thing and it just won't work out.

But how can that be? How can we do all the right things and still not have it work out?

When that happens I have a responsibility to continue to examine, think, reflect, and try and figure it out.

But it doesn't mean that I have failed. Right?

Or is Yoda right?