31 December 2008

Teachers Collecting $125 For Sharing Their Wisdom


.... that's how much wisdom teachers sent me.

.....without any entries submitted there won't be a list of winners to provide.


30 December 2008

Education Guiding Principles: Responsibility

Typically one might consider responsibility to be “towing the line” or doing behaviors that are expected under certain circumstances. In education responsibility is more a compilation of ownership, right action, and congeniality. I think educational experiences come in all shapes and sizes but the deeper they resound the more organized chaos is present.

Students must own the effort they make, which in the end will translate into the knowledge they acquire from the activity exercise during class: what they learned. The easiest way this I’ve accomplished this is using relevant lessons – a lesson that relates what is being taught in class as somehow enhancing student life skills or enhancing the quality of student life outside of school.

While working in a class activity there is certain action that is beneficial to obtaining learning. For example, if Johnny and Anita are chatting it up – not working on the activity tasks: working with other students to investigate, collect information, and make educated guesses, then there isn’t really much hope they are acquiring the necessary info to learn anything. But, just nudging them to focus on the tasks while they continue chatting it up will transform a wasted activity into a contribution to their acquiring necessary info in the goal of completing class work. Digital students can multi-task better than I and many other “adults.”

Every situation has some form of decorum and class decorum is set forth in classroom management polices and activity guidelines. A class without some guidelines is unorganized chaos. The line separating unorganized chaos and organized chaos is very fine, but the difference is organized chaos has the existence of assimilating learning above and beyond survival skills. For example, at the K-12 level, telling students they need to use the supplies and their notes to make a poster explaining XYZ has less learning potential then enhancing those instructions by asking students to include specific information in the poster: title, theme, illustration of cause and effect.

When students are expressing responsibility they are producing a context that naturally builds life skills. In these situations a “ teacher” moves out of the traditional role of being the classroom “expert” dispelling wisdom, instead she/he is a facilitator – a resource for students – that guides the learning taking place.


29 December 2008

Education Guiding Principles: Curiosity

Learning is active - right?

....that would translate into I'm going to have to want/do/know "something" in order for my "education" to occur.

For example, how did I learn about the raging new social network games: Pet Society and Kidnap!?

I logged in and accepted the invite from a friend and began playing them, one game at a time. Sure, I'm pretty slow at picking them up but I'm making progress day by day and discovering the features of the games.

My "education" of social networking games expands ....not in a class or formal setting ..... instead it happens as I bang around around on my computer - driven by my own curiosity.

I'm not a big gift buyer during the holidays, but I enjoy going to the store and exploring the toys and games. How? I pick them up and read the boxes and talk it over with myself (quietly) or with my shopping buddy. Again, my own curiosity is the driving force that creates this opportunity for my "education" on holiday gifts.

In traditional schools, a classroom with out some activity that will fire up student curiosity has a degrading potential for learning. And, this is one of those teacher qualities - the ability to peak and maintain student curiosity - they don't teach you in pre-service programs that churn out thousands of new teachers a year.

One bright spot in school "education" where curiosity is harnessed by design is Sudbury Schools, http://www.sudval.org, where students learn at their own pace, imbibe responsibility and experience education. When you take a few minutes to read about how they have setup "education" you'll be amazed and surprised.


2008 Top Three Education Innovations

Three creative and innovative education ideas in 2008 include the following:

1. Pay-To-Behave Program Debuts In D.C. Schools

2. Open Book Exam: Prepare Kids for Life or for Exams?

3. Service Learning As A Tool For Reducing High School Dropout Rates

…and then there is always the Quality Counts Report full of various measurements….

Have a happy 2009!


10 December 2008

Teachers Collect $125 - Share Your Wisdom

……that is correct, you can put a hundred and twenty-five bucks in your pocket for talking about your class ….. or your teaching.

Here is how it works…..

I am looking for K-12 teachers (any grade or content area) to write at least 1,000 words to describe their teaching. Why? I want to print your teacher wisdom in my ezine starting In January when I roll out a brand new ezine format. That is correct, I want to share your wisdom with other teachers so they can apply it with their classes.

The key points…..

A. Your entry must be sent to me by midnight on December 30th, 2008.

B. Every entry will receive a free subscription to my Education Rebel Ezine and 50 of those entries will be selected to receive $125 in cash.

C. The cash award winners will be posted on this blog by January 12, 2009 and payments will be mailed to those winners by January 9, 2009.

These are the two pieces of information your entry, a minimum of 1,000 words, must include:
1. A brief introduction about your teaching background and class (one paragraph maximum).

2. Discuss one of the following:
- what works in your teaching style to encourage students to learn?
- explain professional development work that has improved your teaching.
- describe a project based learning activity in your class and the learning
- describe a service learning activity in your class and the learning results or impact on campus or community.

Entries must be sent in a Word document or a Google document.
Each entry must include your name, email address, school name, and your mailing address (where the check will be sent). Entries must be received at educationrebel@gmail.com no later than midnight on December 30th. The cash award winners will be notified by email on or before January 5, 2009 and their payments will be mailed to them by January 9, 2009. All entries will receive a free one year subscription to Education Rebel Ezine. When you submit your entry you’re giving me the rights to print it in my ezine for unlimited issues along with your name, grade, and state. I will not share any other information you provide with any other organization because I respect your privacy.

If you have any questions you can send them to me at educationrebel@gmail.com.

I know you’ll have time over the holiday break to share your teacher wisdom with me and I’m paying you to do it.

A beautiful sunny day today, Jack

09 December 2008

Effective Teachers Have WILL

…..was looking over what has helped me the most in my teaching to reach my “getting organized” goal for 2008 and thought I’d blog it.

It’s fair to say that it takes a special type of person …. a certain chemistry … to be a teacher. Not everyone has it or is willing to make the effort to obtain it. I’m all for keeping the effective teachers and helping the ineffective ones, but from what I’ve seen and heard, usually the ineffective teachers don’t know the slide they’re on or won’t agree to being supported - they’re just doing a J.O.B..

I detailed my thoughts about teacher chemistry in the TeacherHandbook (free) that you can pick up at www.educationrebel.com so I’m not going to carry on about it here.

What is WILL? Very simply, it’s Whole children Influenced by Living Learning. I have being doing lessons with a WILL focus for years and I’ve been helping other teachers do them - because they saw the positive results in my classes. WILL starts with a martixed lesson using an OPTIMUM design which is easy to put together and implement.

There are two phases of this OPTIMUM design. The first phase is that a least 40% of your students must be familiar with working in student groups …. plus ….. your students need to be familiar with doing certain critical thinking exercises that are consistently woven into your lesson activities.

A matrixed lesson is built using Objectives, Activities and Resources. Activities are a part of almost every lesson in my classes. Students working in groups have opportunities to flex their social skill learning muscles. I use different “comparing” exercises to get them comfortable with looking at similarities and differences between things - thus building their analytical skills - and building those critical thinking skills too. Once you have 40% of your students familiar with working in groups you are on your way!

One “comparing” example is having students examine completed white boards (posters, models, pictures, reports, and so forth). The goal is to have them describe similarities and differences between whatever they are comparing. I like the completed white boards since students work on them in groups after I give all the groups the same prompts for a specific set of questions or challenge or scenario. There is never a wrong answer, make sure you always use student comments and work as a contribution to the learning objective, or a contribution to their critical thinking skill, or just a plain ole “good work” comment.

Note I didn’t say that 40% of your students are “comfortable” with working in groups. I’m not a believer in comfort zones in class. On the other hand, students need to be familiar or confident with working in groups. When 40% have reached that point they’ll pull the rest of the class with ‘em.

BTW, If you trust me enough to talk with your teacher friends then I’ll instantly give you three of my highly rated classroom resources. Click here to learn more.

The critical thinking skills develop as we educators help students ask better questions. While they are comparing the boards I always do a two minute talk about the constant comparing every one does all day:

- why did you wear those clothes today (you compared them to other clothes)
- when you go to the store, why do you buy some tomatoes and not the others? (you compared them to other tomatoes)
- why do you hang out with Anita and not Sally? (you compared their characteristics and choose one over the other)

This kinda conversation qualifies this “comparing” exercise as relevant to students. When kids see the link to class work and life “outside” they will participate. Bottom line is, we all compare stuff constantly without everything thinking about doing it. As a teacher, bringing the “comparing” activity to the surface is a potent relevancy tool for your arsenal.

Traditional education got students used to memorizing: the development of thinking skills that recognize the value of patterns, self-questioning, associations, and mental pictures ….. and you can use that as a starting point during “comparing” exercises. The more of these exercises you do in class the better worn the path becomes in the direction of boosting the core-thinking processes that naturally induce metacognition.

BTW, if you’re interested in some easy reading material about critical thinking to get 2009 started in a fresh direction take a look at my handbook. (Click here for free copy)

Enjoying a winter rain and wind storm, Jack

PS: After the holidays I’ll be detailing phase two about using WILL with classes.

07 December 2008

Teacher Creativity Opens Learning Potential

Checking the net for education stuff this morning I found an amazing (and true) story of a couple of teachers at Woodland Park HS in CO ……..

They came up with a redesigned lesson idea….. put it to work ….. and everyone wins! The teachers have more individualized time with students, students can learn in ways that work for them, plus the test scores are improving!

What did they do? They stopped lecturing in class for 45 minutes everyday, gave students a DVD of the lecture to take home, and then used class time to work individually with students on problems. Check out the news interview here.

Staying warm, Jack

05 December 2008

Teacher WIP UP

Today the WIP UP (unlimited potential) is all about curriculum…….

…..this global village connection was established in 1997, it’s a treasure trove with thousands and thousands of pages of covering opportunities across the curriculum and it’s all free.(the site)

…… Wiki, wiki, who has a wiki? ….. I bet you’re gonna see the need for this in your arsenal too. (watch and learn)

….. news flash here, this fella is outta the box, when the school budget was exhausted and he needed money to print his math tests for students …. he sold advertising on the exams to make ends meet. (read more)

……Generation Yes site ….. worth a read and tell your students about the global project (age 10-13) they can run with. (read more)

…….the Teacher Domain has media resources galore for any content area …. they are even have tempting professional development media too…… yes, yes they are free. (the site)

Cruising again, Jack

04 December 2008

Educators - figuring out your XYness

..... you can evaluate your class activities using my Teacher Classroom XYness.

...... all class activities migrate through four zones of 1) disruption (starter) 2) organized chaos, 3) excelling, and 4) accomplishment. The real "trim tab" is knowing the trigger points for each zone because that will allow you to manage the students appropriately. You can see the Teacher Classroom XYness here.

This is Part One, the teacher skills I covered earlier ........ today I just want to get you the XY chart so you can compare this technique to your work and chew on the points below:

- all activities start in disruption since that is when students find out what they need to do ...... stuff like the roles and responsibilities ..... how they'll be graded .... and how this ties into class work.

- the organized chaos will be the shortest, hopefully, lived zone, as students get focused on larger tasks they will be more involved with peers and actions that can be readily assessed.

- all the major task work is above the Curriculum Skills bar as moving above that bar is dependent on multiple teaching skills.

- the accomplishment zone isn't the "end all" for students..... when their work is completed they become tutors and start helping other student groups get the work accomplished.

.....more details when I publish Part Two on this one.


Education Rebel - Teacher Handbook For Digital Age - FREE for limited time

03 December 2008

Teachers - Got Your WIP On?

.....teachers are always in a WIP [pronounced WHIP] mode
since they constantly have Work In Progress. That's not just the classroom stuff
either, they have skills to maintain and that takes a concentrated effort with
focus and attention

.... I like visuals, if you want a copy of my teacher WIP diagram just click here to get it.

Basically, there are four skill sets a 21st century teacher must have, the details in the diagram illustrate the bare minimum - a baseline. Here is a brief description of each:

Curriculum Skills

Understands, designs, and uses instruction to make connections that induce educational
experiences that in turn create life long learners.

Technology Skills

Ability to use and manipulate technology to advance instruction methods and engage students.

Classroom Management Skills

Has effective control of classroom environment using various approaches to eliminate disruptive student behavior.

Career Development Skills

The time and effort to participate in activities, outside of classroom work, that promote a wider breadth of teaching practices.

It's worth noting that there are certain overall requirements that need to be met in order for teachers to have an environment where these skills can be achieved:

1. An administrative supported approach to instruction that supports project based learning and isn't a MASH schedule to produce correct multiple choice answers.

2. Class sizes are manageable and not a classrooms full of 25 or more students.

3. Teachers have the technology and tools available to them on a regular basis in their rooms, which doesn't include scheduling a computer lab across campus that has 30 computers for 1,000 students.

What are your thoughts?


Education Rebel - Teacher Handbook For Digital Age - FREE for limited time

06 November 2008

I was shopping today and was surprised to see Christmas trees and decorations slung around store. Wow, time flys. Hope you are finding some time to say warm and enjoy the Fall colors!

Performance Pay News
Catching up at news for the US Dept. Ed I liked that Secretary Spellings knows, "Nothing helps a child learn as much as a great teacher." I also learned that in 2006, President Bush created the Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports districts in rewarding teachers and principals who have increased student achievement and helps to recruit and retain high quality teachers and principals in the neediest schools. Since 2006, $196 million has been awarded to 34 grantees; new performance pay models have been created and existing programs have expanded. This year, the Department is awarding 34 grants nationwide totaling approximately $97 million. Here are three links to get more news...

- Information about performance pay...

- Information on Teacher Incentive Fund

- Information on the Center for Educator Compensation Reform

NLCB - Latest News
The most current results for NCLB are available too at the US Dept. Ed Site. Click here to view 'em state by state.

Doing What Works
Gotta check this out because the Dept of Ed is promoting project based learning. You can watch the videos here and they are made from schools aoround the county. Click here to view.

27 October 2008

Got Time for Serendipity?

Synchronicity is the only decent planning tool sometimes for me.

During my work with students in the Blue Planet Society, an after school club of volunteering students, I was lucky enough to meet some very well meaning people in the community who believed in young people and sincerely want to help the environment.

Sue Sylvester at Adolfson & Peterson Construction was incredibly helpful and supportive in many ways to the club. She was also instrumental in organizing events to help teachers in getting green information for their students. The volunteer work in the community she gives tirelessly to support the environment is exceptional.

Mary Holden is another amazing person. Her work in Raising Arizona Kids Magazine includes calling attention to green efforts and projects in schools. She was incredibly kind to send me a copy of Last Child in the Woods by Robert Louv. Reading that book opened my eyes to a world I thought I knew but then realized I had a whole lot more to understand - a wonderful gift for me indeed.

There are many amazing individuals, I think, who are spreading some useful and educational nuggets that everyone can use. Here is another one ….

Shaping Youth
Amy has an awesome blog that has an eco thread and other great information about how media and marketing influence kids today.


Teachers for Green Schools

Green School News

Education Gaming News

Facebook: Collaborate With K-12 Educators

18 October 2008

Unruly Classes – Ordinary People Being Leaders

Teachers have a job like no one else. No kidding.

Get unruly with a cop you can get arrested or detained.

Get unruly at a restaurant and you’ll be refused service.

Get unruly with your partner and they will tell you to get out.

But, get unruly in a K-12 class and the responsibility of a teacher is to run through their discipline system with the priority to keep you in class and have you be educated. My discipline system worked like this:
- first incident of disrupting class was a verbal warning.

- second incident of the same behavior was calling home, which sometimes meant stopping class – thereby disrupting 25+ students learning the content.

- third incident of same disruptive behavior was a “Responsible Thinking Form” and trip to the Dean.

- fourth incident was writing a Referral, which goes in student permanent file, and a trip back to see the Dean.

What I saw as a teacher was that there is a very small minority of students who are disruptive but then they can disrupt the entire class.

I think there are two ways to reduce disruptive behaviors and thereby support students who want to learn in excelling. First, remove disruptive students. Public K-12 classes are not experiments in behavior modification. Students that continually disrupt more than one class need to be set free. Put them in an alternative learning environment or put them to work at a job skill or a job. The worse action to take, for teachers and students who want to learn, is putting them back in a classroom.

Second, teachers need to be better leaders, which definitely requires a certain chemistry; a mix of content knowledge, people skills, presentation skills, some degree of being technology savvy, and compassion. I do agree that it’s tough to train leaders. Think about it, we can take an ordinary person and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to make one Navy Seal. But has anyone built or even researched the effective program that turns and ordinary person into a K-12 teacher?

Students nowadays are more prone to be technology savvy, able to multi-task, and obviously looking to understand more about life and their role in it. The television shows and movies they watch cover serious stuff and that comes with them to class, along with everything else that is happening or not happening at home. Today, young people are inundated with sex, violence, speedy advertisements, and dysfunctional behaviors at all levels of life. K-12 students today are not a docile blank slate waiting to be filled. They have an undying thirst to understand.

When you look around at the majority of new teachers, what do you see?. They are 20 something and fresh out of college. Kudos to them for making a decision to support education, but they have little life experience to offer students. My concern is that we are filling K-12 teacher slots with young teachers who lack the life skills to be able to teach because they are unable to match or exceed student thirst. They haven’ been out in life enough - yet. Sure they know the content, but can they deal with what else is happening in a K-12 class?

The chemistry of teaching isn’t easy. We all had at least one teacher that knew everything but couldn’t control the class. Or, the teacher that was everyone’s friend and no one learned a darn anything. Remember the teacher who filled every class period with worksheets and s/he just sat at their desk? And then the nightmare teacher, where you did exactly the same thing every day in class.

Life experience is priceless – no matter what profession you are in. It means volumes to the students when you can pull life into a lesson and talk to the lesson content. That is called engaging students with life outside of class. The other point, students are always taking everything to the limit – don’t all young people do this? I did. Young people need to test the limits to see what they can get away with. The challenge of new teachers is that s/he hasn’t built up a repertoire of meaningful social experiences to deal with “behavior incident” situations because they have been learning the subject content.

K-12 teachers must be a solid leader in the land of young people thirsty to comprehend our complex world. We owe it to new teachers to train them, not in being book smart, but in the comprehensive chemistry of effective K-12 teaching. If you know of a “pre-service” teaching program that you think offers the right chemistry for training teachers please let me know.

What helped me the most as a new teacher?
Harry Wong – a must read and then DO IT.

Multiple Intelligences – Harry Gardner

Even though he has little research his ideas are compelling and helped me understand individual students.

K-12 Grants for project learning and service learning

Make Your voice Heard – Report cards

16 October 2008

Equity: Teen Video Gaming or Science and Math

A recently released Pew study on the internet, teens and gaming explains what we expected: 97% of ‘em play video games or console games. What else? That 99% of boys and 94% of girls are “enthusiastic” players.

When I was a kid a social experience was interacting with people that usually occurred outdoors. Not today, according to that report, for most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their overall social experience.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education in the United States is at an all time low. Everyone agrees on this – even McCain and Obama. The US job segment requiring science and math skills had only 8% of the total number of degrees awarded in 2001. Since 2003 there has been a reduction of 50% in undergraduate enrollments of computer science degrees. This is no guessing game – at this pace in 2010 the vast majority of the world's scientists will anywhere but USA grown.

My take is education must be reformed: 1) curriculum needs to take advantage of what teens like to do, 2) teachers need to put technology in as much of the school day as possible, and 3) education stakeholders must take some bold steps – NOW – to curb these trends. How?

National curriculum standards that mandate technology use.
Incorporate technology training for teachers to bolster their skill level to and support using technology methods in K-12 classes. For example, we know students play and enjoy video games so move that forward by requiring a portion of the daily lesson include using a video game. Using what students like to do already as a teaching tool. Video games are essentially a problem solving garden. Every scenario the player is given requires critical thinking to find the solution.

Obligate sufficient assets to supplement existing curriculum resources.
The BBC recently reported that using computer games daily helped boost math scores in Scottish schools. K-12 teachers must provide students with meaningful and frequent learning opportunities using technology. I have read all the studies that say teachers have the computers they need and that just ain’t so. As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that there are not enough computers to go around in the schools. Many times the computers don’t work. Students interested in learning are being cheated because they don’t have the technology tools necessary to challenge them – that’s a crying shame to the USA.

Weave every subject into video games.
The Pew report also state that little evidence exists of concerns that gaming promotes behaviors or attitudes that undermine civic behaviors. With that objection out of the way, gaming can be used for all the core content subjects. Other studies have shown that student collaboration, working together on a project, is a positive influence on learning. That, as an educator, I know to be true.

Hey, I’m not a technology freak. No, I completely enjoy the outdoors and nature. People, we have to get real about the future of our leaders. To have scientists, engineers, and world leaders for tomorrow we need to start NOW.

Here are three of my top learning from playing resources:

1. Games in Multimedia
Many of these are online and some can be downloaded. The majority of online entries are free and cover multiple subjects.

2 Whyville
A Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students. Created by University of Texas professor Jim Bower -- a former professor at the California Institute of Technology and founder of CalTech's Pre-College Science Initiative.

3 WISE – Web Based Science Inquiry Environment
Funded by NSF this site offers a host of case studies where students perform sequenced tasks to research, analyze, and arrive at conclusions.

Say it - report cards: teachers, students, and parents

Remember nature? Southwest glory is here.

Teachers for Green Schools

Green School News

Education Gaming News

Facebook: Collaborate With K-12 Educators

Secret Of Engaging Students


24 September 2008

Ingenuity in K-12 Classes

Wondering how to get your math, social studies, reading, or science students to sit up and get engaged?

Students are full of ideas. So wrap your content around this question …..Got an idea that could change the world, or at least help a lot of people?

Why? Google wants to hear from you -- and they'll pay as much as $10 million to make your idea a reality.

Yup, critical thinking exists in every school content area. And, this question shows students the power of using thinking skills to help yourself and others. I am a big fan of improving thinking skills – being better analyzers of data and using creative solutions to solve issues – because that is a basic life skill.

Thinking, isn’t it a shame that more teachers don’t emphasize it during lessons? Here is a real world opportunity. Learn more by clicking here and read the Google notice.

22 September 2008

The United States of France?

I know this is an education blob but when I read this article in Time it made so much sense. Read it for yourself by clicking here. One paragraph that caught my attention...

"We've always dismissed the French as exquisitely fed wards of their welfare state. They work, what, 27 hours in a good week, have 19 holidays a month, go on strike for two days and enjoy a glass of wine every day with lunch — except for the 25% of the population that works for the government, who have an even sweeter deal. They retire before their kids finish high school, and they don't have to save for a $45,000-a-year college tuition because college is free. For this, they pay a tax rate of about 103%, and their labor laws are so restrictive that they haven't had a net gain in jobs since Napoleon. There is no way that the French government can pay for this lifestyle forever, except that it somehow does."

So how does the education system in France rate? The OECD, currently ranks France's education as the 25th best in the world.

USA education is primarily a State and local responsibility. It is States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant State and local role. Of an estimated $1 trillion being spent nationwide on education at all levels for school year 2007-2008, a substantial majority will come from State, local, and private sources. This is especially true at the elementary and secondary level, where just over 91 percent of the funds will come from non-Federal sources.

In 1999, France's GDP was close to FF 9,000 billion (EUR 1,330 billion) per resident. Of this total, just over FF 600 billion (EUR 95 billion) were devoted to initial or continuing education: 7.2% of GDP.

In 2005 the USA GDP was $12.4 trillion. The federal funds attributed to K-12 education was almost 3%.

The US spends more per student on average per year but both US and France fall in the range of $8,000 - $8,800 per K-12 student (USD).

Read about education in France here .

Keep the faith and don't forget to vote.

21 September 2008

Got STEM in Your Lesson

A Global Challenge
A global project-based competition for high school students with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics of the complexities of global warming and the future of energy. Come learn from and interact with the Executive Director, David Gibson, and find out how students gain 21st Century skills through a self-guided project.

Innovative Programs Foster Education
During the course of the program, students will have the opportunity to work with the Global Institute of Sustainability to research and develop designs to mitigate the urban heat island, participate in “cognitive apprenticeships” with companies like Boeing, Intel, SRP, Motorola, and Microchip, and team up with the Mars Education Program to design autonomous rovers capable of navigating Mars-like terrain.

Say it - report cards: teachers, students, and parents

Remember nature? Southwest glory is here.

Teachers for Green Schools

Green School News

Education Gaming News

Facebook: Collaborate With K-12 Educators

Secret Of Engaging Students


19 September 2008

Okay to Bailout Wall Street but not K-12 Education - huh?

The news about covering the gushing wounds of greed on Wall Street is common news around the globe. Just how much are the taxpayers – you and me – going to pay in the name of stabilizing the financial markets?

"We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars - this needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get at the heart of the problem. "This is the way we stabilize the system." Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

I understand why the Bush leadership is doing this move but I’m not saying I agree with the approach or the tactics. In case you missed the video I made, here are some key expenditures that put funding education in perspective……

--> $8,246: annual average spending per K-12 student in USA.
National Education Association – Ranking and Estimates 2005

--> $22,632: annual average spending per incarcerated person, excluding federal facilities. Department of Justice – State Prison Expenditures 2001

--> $49,026: average USA K-12 teacher salary in 2005-06.
National Education Association – Ranking and Estimates 2005

--> $361,000: annually to put a soldier, Marine, airman or sailor in Iraq or at bases and on ships in the region according to the Congressional Research Service. Houston Chronicle, April 29, 2006

So here is my question, why are we going to spend “hundreds of billions of dollars” on Wall Street - a number produce by greed and mismanagement - and we are unwilling to spend some serious cash to better educate our K-12 students – the future leaders of this world … cleaning up the messes of the people in power now? Go figure. Better yet, send the President and Speakers an email to tell them your thoughts at ……

President George W. Bush

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Speaker Harry Reid


Remember nature? Southwest glory is here.

Teachers for Green Schools

Green School News

Education Gaming News

Facebook Here's A Quick Way To Collaborate With K-12 Educators Worldwide

18 September 2008

Keep that Money Rolling' - K-12 Teacher Grant Resources

Youth Service America is offering the annual State Farm Good Neighbor Service-Learning: grants for youth-led community improvement projects across the United States and Canada. The program offers one hundred grants of up to $1,000 each to teachers and service-learning coordinators who engage youth (ages 5 to 25) in implementing service-learning projects on Global Youth Service Day, April 24-26, 2009. Click here for more info.

Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers
A partnership between Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. , Inc. and the National Science Teachers Association, the Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers program offers grants to K-12 science teachers for innovative projects that enhance science education in the school and/or school district. The program will award fifty large grants and a minimum of twenty mini-grants, totaling $550,000 in all, for projects implemented during the 2009-10 school year. Project categories are Physical Science Application, Environmental Science Education, and Integrating Literacy and Science.

The Target Field Trip Grants program will award U.S. educators grants of up to $800 each to fund a field trip for their students. Target Field Trip Grants may be used to fund trips to art museums, cultural events, civic experiences, and environmental sites. Up to five thousand grants will be awarded across the United States.

NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation supports a variety of efforts by teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to improve student learning in America's public schools, colleges, and universities. Learning & Leadership Grants provide opportunities for teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty and staff to engage in high-quality professional development and lead their colleagues in professional growth. The grant amount is $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study.

Remember nature? Check out the Southwest here.

Green School News

Education Gaming News

08 September 2008

K-12 Grant Resources

Teacher as Researcher Grant This grant supports classroom teachers who undertake action research inquiries about literacy and instruction. Grants will be awarded up to US$5,000, although priority will be given to smaller grants (e.g., $1,000 to $2,000) in order to provide support for as many teacher researchers as possible.

Improving Students’ Understanding of Geometry Grants for Grades K–8 Teachers
The purpose of this grant is to develop activities that will enable students to better appreciate and understand some aspect of geometry that is consistent with the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics of NCTM. For 2009–2010, grants with a maximum of $3,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching at the grades K–8 level.

George Lucas Foundation List of Grants
The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a nonprofit operating foundation and is not a grant-making organization. The comprehensive list at this web site includes grant information for all subjects and grade levels.


Teachers for Green Schools: you can support social responsibility and build character education skills in students.

Education Gaming News

The Secret Of Engaging Students

Green School News

06 September 2008

Constructing Innovative Teaching

Service Learning: Community Café
The Community Café is a table-service soup kitchen that has served more than 15,000 meals to needy residents since December 2006. Kristen Allcorn founded the Café as part of a high school community service project.

Project Based Learning: Digital-age projects give students room to follow their own interests.
Elise Mueller is a Bellingham, Wash., teacher who seems to be in an ideal setting for project-based learning to thrive. She and two fellow elementary teachers share teaching responsibilities for grades 3-5. Students come to Mueller's room for social studies and language arts; her colleagues teach science and math. All three teachers integrate technology, and they regularly plan projects that cut across disciplines. But as Mueller told me recently in an interview for Northwest Education magazine, there's still one remaining challenge: getting students on board.

Education Games: One Stop Resources - all subjects
The world of wikis is … well rich and wicked too.
Finally, a decent resource for all you interested in exploring the world of education video games. Check out this Education Game Resource wiki and you’re bound to learn at least one new resource today.

Online Teacher Community

K-12 Green Ed News

04 September 2008

Moving Forward: Rewiring K-12 Lessons

This video clip is worth a view for three reasons minimum ....
1. You will know exactly what the financial commitment of politicians is today for K-12 education.
2. You will gain some ideas in designing K-12 lessons
3. Your ideas of what education "is" will be refreshed.


Want Your Students To Increase Participation?

Here's A Quick Way To Collaborate With K-12 Educators On Facebook.

02 September 2008

Global Ed Village: International Perspectives on K-12 Education

A different cut today at viewing K-12 education. Let’s take a look at what is in the international news: here and here.. After all, the world really is a global village. We need some earnest dialogues and efforts about sharing success of education with all countries. That will help shorten the learning curve and build a brighter future for the younger generations.

If you are aware of any efforts and/or dialogues please tell me so I can follow them.

Americans say U.S. schools don't teach needed skills
Half of Americans say U.S. schools are doing only a fair to poor job preparing kids for college and the work force. Even more feel that way about the skills kids need to survive as adults, an Associated Press poll released Friday finds.

Nigeria: Aliyu Vows to Eradicate Education Backwardness
SENATOR Nuhu Aliyu (PDP, Niger North) has pledged to contribute his quota to the reversal of the education backwardness of the people of his constituency.

Outdoor classes start in schools
The foundation phase includes classes outdoors and experience of the environment. It starts with three and four year olds and extends up to the age of seven. But a teaching union said staff were under "enormous pressure" to deliver, without the promised level of funding.

French education minister finally admits defeat in battle against the English language
For generations the French have viewed the English language as an ugly tongue furthering brutal Anglo-Saxon values around the world. But after years of fighting its increasing influence, the French government finally admitted 'Oui - the secret of success is speaking English.'

The Secret Of Engaging Students.
Green School News
Education Gaming News
Go There -> Quick Way To Collaborate With K-12 Educators On Facebook.

01 September 2008

Do You Find Yourself Saying: "I Wish I Knew How My Students Are Thinking?"

Student feedback is essential for teachers to grasp the class knowledge and to determine the correct strategy for teaching. Taking that feedback personally can shatter or inflate an ego. Instead, look at the news objectively …. as sign posts on the road of improvement. Teachers, to excel, we need to know what methods and strategies to hang onto cause they work, and what to let go of.

Our students are our best mechanism for understanding our teaching successes and/or gaps.

The Secret Of Engaging Students.

Green School News Education Gaming News
Here's A Quick Way To Collaborate With K-12 Educators On Facebook.

31 August 2008

Enriching Education By Connecting K-12 Teachers

Okay, I've taken the leap and started a group on Facebook: Quality K-12 Education: Taking the Next Steps.

Yes, I did "do" some serious thinking about it but in the end, social media is what more students are interested in. Don't believe me? Ask your students how many have a page in Facebook and/or My Space. These outlets are here to stay.

I am thinking it's time to harness a tool like this for teachers to band together. The purpose of my group is to provide information that includes current reports and research, educator feedback, teaching methods and strategies, events, and curriculum in an effort to discover the "best practices" K-12 educators can implement to build a dynamic learning environment in their classroom.

Join me in my group and contribute you wisdom, questions, and ideas. I look forward to participating with you. Click here to go to the group web age in Face Book.

30 August 2008

Spotlighting Innovative Strategies and Teachers

Technology, Cross Curriculum Learning
Such is life in Whyville, a Web-based virtual world that provides inquiry-based education for middle school students. Created by University of Texas professor Jim Bower -- a former professor at the California Institute of Technology and founder of CalTech's Pre-College Science Initiative -- Whyville looks and feels like a game to the kids who use it. For teachers, it is one more tool for delivering lessons in a package that delights their students.

The EAST Initiative: Students Use Technology to Promote Collaborative Learning
Students helping students and using technology with project based learning. Ready to be inspired? The read this article and watch the video. Yes, the teacher, Tim Stephenson, is to credit for his persistent initiative and commitment.

Kindergarten Goes Virtual
Here are two words I never thought would go together: kindergarten and virtual. The content being offered is across the curriculum and totally interactive. Check it out.

Teacher Magazine (requires free account sign up)
Cindi Rigsbee, North Carolina's 2008 teacher of the year, has spent most of her career working at disadvantaged middle schools and was used to poor teacher morale, but when she switched to a new school before classrooms were even finished, the teachers began to work together in a newly formed professional-learning community. The experience, she says, was transforming: instead of trading woeful classroom tales, educators collaborate to boost student achievement.

28 August 2008

Startling Facts - Real News - On High School Graduation

"If three out of every 10 students in the nation failing to graduate is reason for concern, then the fact that just half of those educated in America’s largest cities are finishing high school truly raises cause for alarm. And the much higher rates of high school completion among their suburban counterparts – who may literally live and attend school right around the corner – place in a particularly harsh and unflattering light the deep undercurrents of inequity that plague American public education."
Cities in Crisis - an Analytic Report on High School Graduation

Published April, 2008

I will say it till I'm blue in the face, lessons have to meaningful to students in order to capture their attention. That means in many classes a reinvention is necessary. What is an ideal instruction model? I think Project Based Learning is as long as the lesson has been connected to students lives outside of class. Why? It is a method of learning that allows students to collaborate with each other, work with their hands, and gives teachers a framework to work with individual students or small groups. Get my free eReport on implementing Project Based Learning when you purchase an annual subscription for $19.95 ..... less than two movie tickets and a box or popcorn.

A Secret to Building an Improved Learning Environment

Students have stimulation form so many sources .... flashy billboards, television shows that carrying four plus character streams per episode, advertisements blitzing volumes of images in barely seconds, and so forth. They have so many choices, that's why as K-12 educators the key to capturing their attention is by relating the lesson material to their life.

To obtain a free eReport with information about using Project Based and Service Based Learning in K-12 classes click here. Check out this current news and research on meaningful and relevant lesson material ....

Ten NYC schools to pilot Core Knowledge literacy curriculum
The pilot program, which will involve about 1,000 children, represents a shift from the Bloomberg administration’s longstanding approach to teaching children to read, known as “balanced literacy.” Under that approach, children are encouraged to select books that interest them, at their own reading levels, from classroom libraries. The theory behind the approach is that it is more important to ensure that young children are truly engaged by books than to dictate that everyone read the same thing. (NY Times)

Why classic literature fails to resonate with modern teens
Teens raised on video games and YouTube have an increasingly rocky relationship with classical literature, and high school English classes are partially to blame, writes high school English teacher Nancy Schnog. If teachers really want to instill a love of reading, they should assign books that resonate with teens before delving into classic literature, she writes. (Washington Post)

New academy aims to hold adolescent girls' attention
Tatshianna Pires, 9, loves school, and a girls' academy set to open next week wants to keep it that way. With no boys, small classes and extra-long school days, the tuition-free academy aims to keep 60 urban girls in the fifth through eighth grades from dropping out and to help them steer clear of truancy and early incidence of pregnancy. (Boston Globe)

Understand Learning Results ...In Less Than 10 Minutes

I think everyone will agree that results are probably the key to understanding how effective K-12 education is or isn't. The question becomes what results need to be analyzed. How can we be sure the examination of performance provides valid and reliable data? That is to say, will the examination measure the same data each year again and do all participants have an equal opportunity?

Here is a site, Measuring Up, that provides result data on every state for K-12 over a number of years on a variety of topics. It also allows you to compare state results using different topics. For example, you can compare AZ, CA, and NY on subjects within participation, achievement, and affordability. Perhaps the best stat here is being able to see the number of students going on to two or four colleges, after all isn't that the ultimate goal of high school? Sure a high school diploma is great, but if you don't go to a technical school, college or university to get some skills you're bound to be part of the service sector working for minimum wage.

Check out Measuring Up and tell me what you think.

17 August 2008

The Power of Education

High school must include teaching academic skills with life skills to students. But how does that translate to college? Well, take a gander at the links below. Herein lies the evidence that just having academic skills won’t cut it. Sure, they are a good start, but being successful in the projects described below means a student brings some quality life skills too.

Examine Killer Bugs
Students work in state-of-the-art labs to learn about infectious diseases.

Working with Monkeys
Work here has created significant breakthroughs in biomedical and behavioral research.

This program uses idle PCs, you can hook yours in to SETI, thus creating a supercomputer to analyze data from radio telescopes.

Create Video Games
An Ivy League school that offers a degree in game design to support academic studies, including artificial intelligence and computer animation.

11 August 2008

Books & Laptops - tools that keep on giving

As a former educator from an inner city high school, where students of less privilege are the majority, I have learned more about myself in four short years than I knew possible. At the same time, I discovered acres about smart kids in bad circumstances, the power of hope, along with streams about what to hang onto and what to let go of....

This last week I finished reading A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind. A truly remarkable story of a remarkable student ... particular poignant for me as it brought those subtle issues I dealt with in my classes - every day- to the surface .... ahhhh, so there are people "in the know" that recognize the issues ... but so little seems to be accomplished with all the talk .... I guess - as usual - it rests on the shoulders of classroom teachers to accomplish learning since teacher are the front line of education.

Laptops for less that $200 provide an opening for those of less privilege. Check out the the program at One Laptop Per Child. You can donate or request laptops here. This is the right program to provide useful technology where it can do the most good - in a classroom full of creative and energtic minds.

If you know of a classroom in need of these excellent tools let me know.

30 July 2008

Quality Teaching - Everyone Knows It Must Be So

What makes a quality teacher?

Surely, this teacher type accomplishes learning objectives ... meaning students are excelling in academics ... but how?

Experts will say they know the material they teach, they practice proficient classroom management skills, they must have decent organizational skills, and to some degree they must get along withe their teacher peers on the campus.

From my teaching days, besides knowing the material, I would say the most important skill is having a stage presence in class. With that presence a quality teacher can discipline students fairly and equitably ... along with rewarding students ..... BUT most importantly, with that presence the teacher builds a learning environment where students feel safe. When that safety is in place, students WILL engage themselves by participating while also acting respectful.

There is a bunch of essential information one doesn't get taught about quality teaching during the process procuring an education and passing subject matter exams to secure a teaching certificate. Honestly, I'm not a fan of having young people come barreling out of college and head into teaching. Why? They don't have the depth of social skills required to handle the velocity of teenagers today. Sure, maybe they can be effective in the primary grades as those students will interact with them as adults. But in high school, I think older people should be teaching. And when I saw older, I mean people who have been out in the world working in careers and are ready a career change BUT not ready for retirement. I might as well say it, I have also seen some very old teachers that should be retired.

Where am I going with this? Peer review. I think teachers should be evaluated by peer review to keep their jobs. Administrators have too much going on and by letting teachers evaluate teachers there is a process in place that is on a level playing field. Here is an excellent article and audio file from NPR on a current peer process in place in Ohio that seems to be working well.

Peer Review System for Teachers Spreads

29 July 2008

Back to School Time - Who's Prepared?

The summer is rolling to an end over the next few weeks. K-12 students around the world will be trading in days filled with couches, beaches, and bicycles for desks, chairs, and fluorescent lighting ... and hopefully a meaningful nine months filled with a quality education.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of education is providing students with skills - life skills - preparing them to be successful global citizens. Yet, I'm not sure we are getting that done ... or even if it can be done given the structure of K-12 public education. Did you ever stop to think that there are 52 education systems in the USA (one for each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico). While, the federal government shares legislative authority over education, administrative control rests with states and is the responsibility of state boards of education and local districts.As I wondered more about this I began searching for the national policy or the mission of public education. All those people, organizations, and ensuing politics seem like a recipe making chaos.

Well, my research produced a USA national education policy called NCLB which was signed into law effective 2002. It's based on four main principles: accountability based on results; increased flexibility and local control for state use of federal funding; more choice for parents; targeted funding for education methods proven to work.

There are many ways to measure if NCLB is working or not. That will take me houndreds of blog pages to examine. Some perspective, in 1983, the national report, A Nation At Risk, delivered a wake up call for our education system. It described stark realities like a significant number of functionally illiterate high schoolers, plummeting student performance, and international competitors breathing down our necks. It was a warning, a reproach, and a call to arms. Have we learned our lessons ... is NCLB and/or previous education reform improving K-12 education?

One example, a study done to look at if students are prepared for education. Students were considered unprepared if they came to school without 1) books; 2) paper, pencil or pen; and/or 3) homework. The results showed in 2002 there were more unprepared students that in 1980 or 1990. This begs the question, what does it mean for a student to be prepared in 2008 and beyond ?

I know from my teaching days .... sure it's great if students have a pencil but they don't - no biggie - I was prepared with spares they could borrow . No paper - no problem. I had paper for students to use too - I was prepared. Whatever material we needed for class I made sure to have in the classroom, my students didn't need to bring a book. Who uses a textbook in class anymore? Boring. Going to read? Teachers - please - use an article from current research or news to teach the learning objective. Bottom line for me ... I know, without a doubt, that a majority of students who didn't have a book, paper, or pencil/pen were still prepared to learn.

To me, being prepared to learn means being open to thinking, discussing, ready to analyze, and ready to listen to the teacher/students ... ready to do the class work. I think, evaluating a student's preparedness for education based on outdated criteria comes from using an outdated approach to defining education and thus produces an unrealistic image of what learning really is.

As we get ready to start this new school year, let's hope that the educators and teachers are ready to deal with students freshly using methods that integrate 21st Century learning opportunities. I know that many will be prepared to engage students and thus set the stage for a educational school year.

25 March 2008

Cutting edge of project learning - robotics

Early this morning, driving to work I heard this incredible story about high school students beating MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a competition - TWICE, four years ago. Today, that team is being interviewed on NPR, the students and the teacher, because they have an all girls team in regional robotics competition at LA. This robotics team is project based learning in its' finest.

The students drive their own efforts to build the robot, plus they work with feeder (middle) schools to train the students there in building and operating robotics, plus they raise funds to be able to travel to the competitions. The teacher, Fredi Lajvardi, puts in tons of hours after school and on weekends - the majority of which is volunteer - he doesn't get paid by the school district for his club work. I think the key here on the project learning aspect is this - the students are willingly 100% responsible for all the work done by their club.

Naturally, in the course of this participation students learn science and math. They also build incredible social skills. As a side benefit, students get prepared to be engineers and many of the team participants have gone on to a university with scholarship money. The training they provide to the students in middle schools is their volunteer work, which pays off when those middle schoolers understand more about math and science plus they're ready when they arrive at high school for robotics.

Kudos to Fredi and his determination to make all this available to his robotics team!

Click here for radio interview and slides at NPR.

Click here for the Falcon robotics web site.

24 March 2008

Service learning and the environment

I find planning for service learning doesn’t need to be exotic. When I think about it, the elements of project based learning are present in the current project we are working on: 1) students performing construction activities, 2) students are applying prior knowledge to learn, and 3) peer to peer collaboration is present. The one addition for service learning is that the students are helping others or helping the community with the effort being made.

In the barrel project discussed yesterday the students are helping others become aware of the environment. When the colorful barrels are placed around the zoo they will naturally draw the attention of visitors to the zoo. That attention alone is subtlety supporting those seeing the barrels to take care of the environment. Lastly, the essay that club members will collaborate to produce seals the effort to promote behaviors of recycling and reusing.

- This work involves the entire community as high school students around AZ have an opportunity to become involved and make a difference at one of Arizona’s most important cultural, educational, and environmental organizations.

- This project involves student and visitor education ... students learn about recycling, conservation, wildlife, and habitats as they create the barrel designs. Plus, visitors are visually reminded to recycle by the student art work.

- The barrels being used are actually being re-used so the work is doing what the end result is promoting.

Service learning can be fun, educational, and support the community. Have any good ideas for a service learning class effort?

23 March 2008

Project Learning and Earth Day

One activity I'm doing with a club I sponsor after school, the Blue Planet Society, involves the Phoenix Zoo. The zoo has invited high schools to paint barrels with an environmental theme, which will then be placed around the zoo as containers for recyclable items. On Earth Day the zoo staff will judge the essays submitted with the barrels in the Environmental Connections Essay Contest. The schools/groups that win the Favorite Barrel Contest and Environmental Connections Contest will receive a free Zoo-To-You Outreach program of their choice.

The students are having a blast in the painting and the essay is coming along. I am enjoying watching them arrive at what to paint. They split into two groups and each group has really struggled with the "right" thing to paint. There's a lot of social dynamics occurring that I didn't anticipate. Then we had to move into who was going to paint and we ended up asking a very talented student, who's not in the club. to help us. The essay effort is being headed by three students and we will have a draft later this week.

Besides the social stuff, everyone is learning some painting concepts. Plus, everyone is participating in the ideas we all present in the essay. There is that, what I call, "project richness" that takes place when you have students exchanging ideas, challenging each other, asking questions, and trying to fit in with each other ..... a very active project indeed. I am asking students to write a two paragraph summary about what they learned by participating in the project.

We need to submit the completed barrels and essay in two weeks. One thing, no matter how well we planned, we are getting jammed with running out of time. But, the students are committed to getting it done so I'm sure we will. Click here to see the Phoenix Zoo site about the project in general.

I will keep you posted on our progress. Here are some photos of the work we are doing....

Business meeting to make a plan.

Putting on the primer.

Adding the design work.

16 March 2008

Do pedagogy and inpsiration mix?

Well, I kept asking myself what inspiration has to do with project based learning and service learning ... and I didn't have any answers. Ever been drawn to something without understanding why? I was drawn to a Tony Robbins video on TED.

After watching it, I was clear - so glad I don't always need a reason "to do" something. This video clip is 20 minutes well worth your time - for the quality of your life and thus the quality of your teaching. Everything he discusses relates to pedagogy.

What did I learn? Well, too much to mention here but I did grasp that learning/teaching are heavily dependent on unseen forces. In my role as an educator, I think all teachers have made a plan for achieving what we want to deliver in our personal effort to fulfill students' education - either consciously or unconsciously. Mine is conscious choice at this juncture.

During the drive of our teaching career we are going to make some "decisions of destiny" and each choice we make will bring into view certain choices ... those choices are what we end up focusing on and thus shaping our world.

What I find most interesting are his six traits - so to speak - that each of us contain. Yes, we use them all but use some more than others. The one we choose at any time will drives us in that period .... and they are: certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth, contribution.

I can see how different students in different classes are driven by those at one time or another... sometimes all the time. Like the class clowns are the "significance" since they disrupt the class to get 100% attention. The students who "aren't doing a drawing unless I get a ruler" would be "certainty." Another is "variety" which is those students who are asking more and more questions about the same subject but in different ways or on related topics.

This is the first time I've seen Tony, although I've heard of him for years. If you take the time, I think you 'll be pleased and find this a meaningful talk for yourself and your students. I'm going to show it to mine this week.

Tell me what you think.

14 March 2008

Research on service learning in public schools

Service-learning in K-12 schools works for teacher because it integrates classroom instruction with service by students. That service can go across the curriculum, touching more than one subject area. Because service learning is working on issues in the community it provides opportunities for students to enhance utilize critical thinking skills. It must have clearly stated learning objectives, meet real community needs, and include time for students to reflection.

In a study done by W. K. Kellogg Foundation, participating youths explained their benefits in service learning programs in personal and social responsibility, self-efficacy, motivation to learn, improved academic skills, leadership skills, avoidance of risk behavior, interpersonal skills, and connection with heritage. Read the report

Schools can implement service-learning programs in a number of different ways. They range from school-wide service learning, which involves every student in the school, to grade-wide service-learning, which involves all students in one or more grades, to service-learning as part of an individual course.

Interesting teacher facts on service learning…
- Nationwide, 83 percent of public schools with service-learning offered some type of support to teachers interested in integrating service-learning into the curriculum
- The most common types of support provided to teachers included support for attending service-learning training or conferences outside of the school (66 percent), financial support for costs associated with service-learning projects or programs (58 percent), and mini-grants for service-learning programs or curriculum development (45 percent)

Why do public schools participate in service learning?
The top three responses were as follows:
- 53 percent of schools said that they encouraged student involvement in service-learning to help students become more active members of the community.
- The other most frequently cited reasons were increasing student knowledge and understanding of the community (51 percent)
- meeting real community needs and/ or fostering relationships between the school and surrounding community (48 percent)

Information for this blog was obtained from http://nces.ed.gov.

11 March 2008

Get ready, set and go to digital learning materials - for free

Hey, what if we got rid of the textbooks and allowed teachers to share digital texts and course materials? Then any teacher can modify/translate/contextualize that material for their class ... oh yeah, it's all free to do this. Would you use it? I would in a heart beat. This video below, Richard Baraniuk, shows this has already begun around the world ... it's being realized right now in an effort called Connexions.

Earth Hour - a global blessing

Originating in Sydney in 2007, the Earth Hour campaign has now gained global attention. As a result, on 8pm March 29, 2008 millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities will unite and switch off for Earth Hour. See what is happening in your city and how you can get involved.

This is an awesome way to support the Earth and help educate our students by getting them to participate in a simple action. Yet and still, this promises an opportunity where they can behave to demonstrate their understanding of being a global citizen.

Get involved and learn more at the Earth Hour website.

09 March 2008

Cool, free tech stuff for learning tools

Technology is here to stay and as educators we have to learn it and, if we are lucky, keep up with it. Here are some tools you can use for free, each has a different level of skill requirements.

Get "Pro" version of Google Earth for free.
Read how and learn about how to apply it in your lessons here.

Productivity: documents, presentations, file storage, database, and more
Zoho is a suite of online applications (services) used from an online server. The applications are free for individuals and some have a subscription fee for organizations.

Virtual World
Quest Atlantis (QA) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation.

Chat Rooms
1. Yaplet: a simple idea: Add anonymous, no-registration chat to any Web site. Yaplet is a browser sidebar that can also be popped out as its own browser window.
2. ChatMaker: make your own chat room.
3. Chatzy: make your own chat room

Presentation – Collaboration
1. Multiple people can work on a document at the same time: Just 2 Easy, Zoho Writer, Solodox.
2. White board that allows multiple online users – up to five – at the same time: Scriblink.
3. White board that allows multiple online users and you can paste in other docs too: Skrbl.
Squeak is a "media authoring tool"-- software that you can download to your computer and then use to create your own media or share and play with others. It is free and downloadable here.

1. A web-based software for creating WebQuests in a short time. When you use zWebquest, you will not need any of writing HTML code or using any web editor software. zWebquest creates all the necessary files and puts them on the server automatically.
2. Filamentality is a free fill-in-the-blank tool that guides you through picking a topic, searching the Internet, gathering good Internet links, and turning them into online learning activities.

Provided by Education Reporting, Inc website for reports, trends, and news on K-12 education.