Friday, August 18, 2017

Digital natives ?/ Literacy or Curiosity?/ Writing / Bill Gates! / NZ Elections ?? / and David Perkins Smart Schools


Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Apologies for the absence of readings last week. I was hit by a double whammy – our internet connection went down for 48 hours, and then, as soon as that was restored, my computer decided to go on strike. In the end I had to erase the hard drive and reinstall everything. Being a wise person, I had good back ups so it was only an inconvenience rather than a disaster. 

Do you have good backups in place, including some off site? Remember that there are two kinds of computers in the world - those that have had a major hard drive issue, and those that are going to have one… and once you’ve lost your data, that’s it.  Goodbye to all those precious photographs …

I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz


Digital Natives Do Not Exist, Claims New Paper

But taken as a whole, digital natives might be a myth, argues a paper published in Teaching and Teacher Education. Students who grew up in the digital world are no better at information skills simply because they were born into such an era. The study also presents evidence that these supposed “digital natives” are no better at multitasking either. In fact, assuming that they do may harm their education.’ 


Fire pits and power tools good for preschoolers

‘While fire pits and real tools aren't things you'd normally expect to find in an early childhood centre, new Australian research suggests that perhaps they should be.

Exposure to different "risks" within their preschool, including open flames hammers and saws, (yes, you read that correctly!) resulted in preschoolers developing more confidence, safety awareness and better risk assessment skills, according to a new study.

The findings, set to be published later this year, highlight the importance of risky play in a world where helicopter parenting is increasingly common.’


Literate, Numerate or Curious?

Here’s an interesting question for your next workshop, faculty meeting, or maybe even a dinner party?

“Would you rather that your children were literate, numerate, or curious?” Pick one, and why?

For many, it’s a tough choice; for most, you want all three. But if you had to choose one, which one would it be? In case you’re wondering, yes this is a leading question, which I’ll get to in a moment. But I for one would want to start my response by first asking exactly what you mean by each of those three words.’



Talking about Creativity Is Fun, But How Do You Teach It?

Nothing in education engenders as many bumper sticker slogans as creativity. We want our kids to develop creative minds. But creativity is difficult to measure and so research in this area is scant, 
One common notion is that allowing students more freedom to express themselves fosters creativity. Along the same lines, many argue that strict educational systems dampen creativity.’



I’ve got something to say by Gail Loane with Sally Muir

This book review encompasses just about everything that needs to be known about children’s writing and makes a mockery of the grotesque Wow! national standards-Hattie culture of today. As I go through the review, readers will come across small matters of difference between me and the authors; my preference being slightly less structure and even more emphasis on expressive writing. But if you based your writing programme on the tenets set out you would be doing famously.’



The Squishiness of Writing Instruction

‘The problem with writing is that it's squishy, probably squishier than anything else we teach. There is no solid metric for measuring how "good" a writer. Can you quantify how Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Chaucer, Kate Chopin, Carl Sagan, P.J.O'Rourke, Mark Twain, James Thurber, and S. E. Hinton stack up each other by measuring how "good" they are? Of course not-- even the attempt would be absurd. Ditto for trying to give students a cold hard solid empirical writing rating.’


Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Dear Justine Greening: your primary school reading reforms aren’t making the grade

How do you dress up the great Tory reading reforms as a stunning success if 29% aren’t at the expected level? Might there be a little bit of a problem that too much emphasis has been put on “decoding” and not enough on “meaning”? After all, the ultimate purpose of reading is to understand what it is you’re reading, isn’t it?’



The idea you can put a number against a child's ability is flawed and dangerous

Head teacher Alison Peacock sees the demise of levels as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change how children are assessed nationally. But instead of simply replacing the old structure with a new one, she’d like to focus on enabling children to learn in a meaningful way so that assessment becomes “a tool for improvement rather than judgment”.The assumption that you can reliably put a number against what a child is capable of is flawed and dangerous.’

http://bit.ly/2x60wRQ

Teaching and Purpose: A Response to Bill Gates and his Purpose Problem

‘I recently ran across Bill Gates’s blog. Gates ironically reflects on what it means to have purpose in one’s life.I say ironically, because many blame Bill Gates for the current push to replace teachers In our public schools with technology—calling it personalized or competency-based learning.Not only will teachers lose their profession and their purpose, a whole segment of society will be displaced—careers shattered.This will drastically affect how and what students learn. Even our youngest children will obtain their knowledge on machines.’


Schools Are Not A Business: Making Them Compete Is Insane

‘The real issue here is having schools compete for students. With this system in place, we will always see people abandoning schools in poor areas and heading for richer areas.
We need to abandon this idea that having schools compete somehow improves education. Looking at the international evidence, it simply doesn’t bear out in reality.
Schools and teachers should collaborate, learning from each other, and work to ensure that every local school is the school of choice.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Nigel Latta: The new ‘Haves and Have Nots’ – time for Moral Leadership in New Zealand

‘As we begin to focus on the upcoming elections Nigel Latta’s TV programme is timely. It is surely time to move away from on the personalities of leaders and to focus on the real issues facing our country. The programme was a serious attempt to get to the core of inequality in NZ and its consequences for us all.Once NZ had one of the highest home ownership figures in the world and we didn’t see examples of extreme wealth.’




David Perkin’s Smart Schools

 Dreams are where the dilemma starts ’, Perkins writes – dreams about great schools. ‘We want our schools to deliver a great deal of knowledge and understanding to a great many people of differing
talents with a great range of interests and a great variety of cultural and family backgrounds. Quite a challenge – and why aren’t we better at it.’ Some, he would say, is because ‘We don’t know enough. ’Perkins, though, thinks they’re wrong, ‘We know enough now to do a much better job’. The problem comes down to this, ‘we are not putting to work what we know.’ 'We do not have a knowledge gap – we have a monumental use – of - knowledge gap’. Schools that use what we know he calls ‘smart schools’.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Creative education: The Blue School - a school that celebrates the creativity and ideas of students


Alan is having trouble with his broadband so here is a posting from 2010 that is worth a read. Interested viewers should take the time to explore the school's website
http://www.blueschool.org/



The Blue School in Lower Manhattan was established by members of the Blue Sky Company -a company involved in helping organisations develop creative ideas.They wanted to establish a school that celebrated the creativity and ideas of children - they wanted to establish a school they would have liked to have gone to - a dream school for their own children.

They wanted school committed to keeping alive the sense of wonder, play and joy of young children. The school currently caters for children from 2 to 6. The ideas will not be new to creative

teachers, particularly those that 'teach' younger children but their emphasis on making student inquiry central is a challenge to us all in these day of making literacy and numeracy achievement central

If you are interested visit their site.
Their site explains their language and mathematics programmes as well as all other learning areas. All good reassuring stuff.

The latest from the Blue School is shared in their most recent newsletter.

In recent months all those involved in the school have been been involved in discussions and workshops to develop a curriculum model that they feel best represents the Vision,Values and philosophy of their school. These workshops have included input from creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson and advisers from the Emlia Reggio Schools of Milan.

The mission ( vision) of the school is:

'To cultivate the creative, joyful and compassionate inquires who use the courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.'

The curriculum model has at its centre that students, teachers and parents should be inquirers.

The school believes that learning occurs naturally through the exploration of meaningful provocations that are initiated and supported by the interests and experiences of the children and their teachers. 'Research' , they state, 'supports the belief that children learn best when they engage in meaningful activities that build on these threads of inquiry'.


The school also believes in the 'whole child approach'. An approach that values the children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs. They believe that 'each child develops across and within the inquiry threads and that every child learns in a unique and individualised way'.It is important for teachers to identify where each child is in order to meet his or her needs and then to scaffold learning in a way to meet educational and life goals.

The inquiry threads, or lenses, are similar to the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum and early childhood's Te Whariki. They are:

Hero: the lense of perseverance, commitment and leadership
Trickster: the lense of provocation, innovation and play.
Artist: the lense of imagination, instinct and expression.
Innocent: the lense of emotional awareness and mindfulness.The Blue School

The Blue School in Lower Manhattan was established by members of the Blue Sky Company -a company involved in helping organisations develop creative ideas.They wanted to establish a school that celebrated the creativity and ideas of children - they wanted to establish a school they would have liked to have gone to - a dream school for their own children.

They wanted school committed to keeping alive the sense of wonder, play and joy of young children. The school currently caters for children from 2 to 6. The ideas will not be new to creative teachers, particularly those that 'teach' younger children but their emphasis on making student inquiry central is a challenge to us all in these day of making literacy and numeracy achievement central

If you are interested visit their site.
Their site explains their language and mathematics programmes as well as all other learning areas. All good reassuring stuff.

The latest from the Blue School is shared in their most recent newsletter.

In recent months all those involved in the school have been been involved in discussions and workshops to develop a curriculum model that they feel best represents the Vision,Values and philosophy of their school. These workshops have included input from creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson and advisers from the Emlia Reggio Schools of Milan.

The mission ( vision) of the school is:

'To cultivate the creative, joyful and compassionate inquires who use the courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.'

The curriculum model has at its centre that students, teachers and parents should be inquirers.

The school believes that learning occurs naturally through the exploration of meaningful provocations that are initiated and supported by the interests and experiences of the children and their teachers. 'Research' , they state, 'supports the belief that children learn best when they engage in meaningful activities that build on these threads of inquiry'.


The school also believes in the 'whole child approach'. An approach that values the children's social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs. They believe that 'each child develops across and within the inquiry threads and that every child learns in a unique and individualised way'.It is important for teachers to identify where each child is in order to meet his or her needs and then to scaffold learning in a way to meet educational and life goals.

The inquiry threads, or lenses, are similar to the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum and early childhood's Te Whariki. They are:

Hero: the lense of perseverance, commitment and leadership
Trickster: the lense of provocation, innovation and play.
Artist: the lense of imagination, instinct and expression.
Innocent: the lense of emotional awareness and mindfulness.
Group Member: the lense of collaboration and commitment
Scientist: the lense of curiosity, experimentation and analysis.

Blue School believes in an integrated, emergent child-centred curriculum. The school has

curriculum essence statements for the usual range of learning areas including language and mathematics. They all represent a creative approach to learning
.

Curricular 'threads' emerge from the interests of the children and call upon curriculum areas as required as well as meeting grade level agreed benchmarks.

The child centred curriculum focuses on meeting the identified developmental individual needs of the children and learning styles. The teachers are seen as facilitators of learning and the children as active constructors/participants of their own learning. The curriculum 'emerges' from the interests, past knowledge, and experiences of the children and teachers. The schools see the immediate natural and man made environment as an important source of learning and value the use of the senses and curiosity when involved in field trips and creative expression on return.

Motivation is a key component of learning and, as such, the school needs to identify the different learning styles used by each child. All leaning is contextual and makes use of the 'inquiry threads' and the learning areas as appropriate. While all learners are exposed to all learning areas and inquiry threads it is likely , the school writes, 'that they will be each be comfortable and successful with one or two specific lenses.

Teachers at the school build up developmental profiles that drive curricular content, teaching strategies, assessment and differentiating of instruction.

The teachers use these profiles in conjunction with each grades developmental benchmarks to engage in dynamic or ongoing authentic assessment's. This information is linked with curriculum challenges to individualize, design and implement the curriculum that will support and scaffold learning for all the children to meet both individual and grade level goals.

The key thing is that inquiry is at the core of Blue School. By placing inquiry at the centre a flexible and integrated curriculum emerges and teacher are able to personalize or individualize learning for each child.

It is this lesson New Zealand teachers need to gain courage from as they are resist politically inspired reactionary programmes.

Protecting students as creative inquirers is far more important than a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy that our current government is imposing
.




.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Gifted education / ADHD ?/ Harry Potter / maths and reading / Guy Claxton and David Perkins......


Education Readings



Creativity - do we really value it

By Allan Alach



I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at allanalach@inspire.net.nz



Why there’s no such thing as a gifted child

‘… the latest neuroscience and psychological research suggests most people, unless they are cognitively impaired, can reach standards of performance associated in school with the gifted and talented. However, they must be taught the right attitudes and approaches to their learning and develop the attributes of high performers – curiosity, persistence and hard work, for example – an approach Eyre calls “high performance learning”. Critically, they need the right support in developing those approaches at home as well as at school.’




Challenging the Status Quo in Mathematics

‘In short, building relationships between how to solve a problem and why it's solved that way helps students use what they already know to solve new problems that they face. Students with a truly conceptual understanding can see how methods emerged from multiple interconnected ideas; their relationship to the solution goes deeper than rote drilling.’





Renowned Harvard Psychologist Says ADHD Is Largely A Fraud

'Kagan’s analysis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) concludes that it is more of an invented condition rather than a serious illness. Moreover, he thinks that the pharmaceutical industries and psychiatrists have invented the disorder because of money-making reasons.’




http://bit.ly/2u5vJaV



Guess What? We’re All Born With Mathematical Abilities

And also their ability to engage in cardinal reasoning i.e. knowing that the number three — when you see it on a page or hear someone say “three” — that it means exactly three, which is really at the root of our ability to count. This cardinality, in particular, seems to be the most important skill that we can measure at a very young age and then predict whether kids are going to be succeeding in a much broader assessment of math achievement when they enter kindergarten.’




What Works For Getting Kids to Enjoy Reading?

So in fact, getting kids to read will not only improve their reading, it will make them like reading more. Getting children to like reading more in order to prompt more reading is not our only option. We can reverse it—get them reading more, and that will improve reading attitudes and reading self-concept. Well then, how do we prompt a child with negative or indifferent attitudes toward reading to pick up a book?’




Harry Potter’s world: keeping spaces for magic making in our schools

We need to ensure that the spaces for creative writing and creative learning are not squeezed out
of formal education and that the inspiration of Harry Potter and friends can continue to provide the means for young (and not so young people) to become immersed in real/non-real, familiar/strange and magical worlds that can become the gateway to new forms of creating understanding, being and becoming.’




Digital curriculum completely misses the point

I was surprised by the release of the draft digital technologies curriculum content (DTCC) a few weeks ago. Actually, I should say blind-sided. It wasn’t that a digital focus was coming to our curriculum that shocked me (it is well overdue), but rather the rigidity and narrowness of the document. I believe the DTCC has completely missed the point of education, and the place and purpose of digital technologies.’




Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:



I Am Not A Hero Teacher

‘However, when the day is done, students often are reluctant to leave. They cluster about in the hall or linger in the classroom asking questions, voicing concerns, just relieved that there’s someone there they can talk to. And that’s reason enough for me to stay. The odds are stacked against me. Help isn’t coming from any corner of our society. But sometimes despite all of that, I’m actually able to get things done. Everyday it seems I help students understand something they never knew before. I’ve become accustomed to that look of wonder, the aha moment. And I helped it happen!




How to Be a “Great Student” and Learn Absolutely Nothing At All

What happens when you take a child from her sandbox — where she has learned to get dirty, play, laugh, and see the world with wide, curious eyes —to lock her into a “regime of fear” where the new Gods are efficiency and optimization?

Will she still build sand castles?




How Data is Destroying Our Schools

‘There are teachers who will read this and think I am wrong.  They have heard the drum-beat of data-driven education since they first decided to become teachers, and they – like me, a few years back – still believe that the data is meant for them.

It isn’t. Data is destroying education, and we need to stop it before it is too late.’




Adora Svitak on developing creativity: We need ‘childish’ thinking

Child prodigy Adora Svitak says the world needs “childish” thinking: bold ideas, wild creativity and especially optimism. Kids’ big dreams deserve high expectations, she says, starting with grownups’ willingness to learn from children as much as to teach.She also notes that “childish” is often associated, dismissively, with irrational thinking – but says in some cases we can, and do, truly benefit from irrationality.’





From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:



Education is about playing the whole game

David Perkin’s point is that formal learning rarely gives students a chance to learn to 'play a whole game'. All too often learning by teaching isolated 'elements' first or students are required to 'learn about' things because of distant future need. In both cases ( one resulting in a 'piecemeal' curriculum the other lacking personal relevance) students struggle to see the point of learning. Perkins contrasts this 'mindlessness' to learning a new game. Education , Perkins writes, 'aims to help people learn what they cannot pick as they go along' unlike, he say, learning ones first language.’




Guy Claxton - building learning power.

Claxton’s message was that by focusing on developing students 'learning power' ( NZs 'key competencies') teachers and their students will cope the standards without too much anxiety. As Claxton quoted, 'Are we preparing our students for a life of tests or the tests of life?'We need , he said, 'To provide our students with the emotional and cognitive resources to become the 'confident, connected, life long learners'; the vision of the NZ Curriculum. To achieve this is all about powerful pedagogy.’