Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Digital Learning Farm - Alan November #ISTE10

I had the opportunity to attend one of Alan November's sessions at ISTE2010. The session was entitled: Digital Learning Farm (Students as contributors). This was my first opportunity to hear Alan November, and I thought he was a great presenter with a great message. My main take aways from his presentation were:
  1. Because the majority of students will ask their friends for help before they ask their teachers, their success is somewhat dependent on who their friends are.
  2. Giving grades over time puts creativity in decline, as students will begin to do only what is required to get an A.
  3. Assign students jobs in your classroom. Always have at least one official researcher for the day. He/She is in charge of finding the worlds best resources for the content that is being covered. This way at least one student is learning great research skills every day!
  4. The teacher's knowledge shouldn't be the limit for a student's learning.
This was a great presentation that has left me with much to think about. He also talked about doing purposeful work, and tied this into Daniel Pink's new book Drive. Since the presentation I have also found two great videos that you can watch to get some more information.

Alan November - Myths and Opportunities

Daniel Pink - Drive Animated

And finally, here are my notes from the presentation:

How to triple boot a MacBook Air

Here is the guide I followed in order to triple boot my new MacBook Air. It is a great guide from Lifehacker. It uses rEFIt as the boot manager which works great! However, I did run into a few problems. My ultimate goal was to have OS X, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), and Windows 7. I have had all three running on my MacBook successfully and here is what I learned:
  1. If you are installing XP (either instead of 7 or before you upgrade to 7) you can't have another partition after the XP partition. Either leave the space for the linux partition unallocated, or create it ahead of the XP partition. Otherwise XP won't boot.
  2. The first time you successfully boot into Windows make sure you install the bootcamp drivers. I joined my Windows 7 install to a domain and then couldn't ctrl-alt-del to login because of the Mac keyboard not supporting that key combo.
  3. I had some unresolved issues with my Ubuntu install not shutting down correctly. Sometimes it would just hang at a black screen with a blinking cursor after going through the shutdown tasks. I'm not sure how to solve this yet.
  4. Make sure you follow the instructions in the guide about installing the grub boot loader to the Ubuntu partition and not to the master boot record of the drive. The second time I loaded Ubuntu I forgot to do this and it has been a headache. Luckily one of our techs was able to reload the master boot record and I can get back into Windows 7 now, but we had to delete the Ubuntu partition during the process.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reflection on Closing Keynote for #iste10

The closing keynote for ISTE2010 was Jeff Piontek. Jeff is the head of the Hawaii Technology Academy. I thought his keynote was far and away the best of the three ISTE keynotes. He knew his audience, and he knew his presentation even better.

I thought his most powerful idea was that of re-tooling the age old idea of S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math) in education. His recommendation is to change it to S.T.E.A.M. = Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math. Anyone who is familiar with Daniel Pink's 'A Whole New Mind' understands the need to reinforce the arts in our students' education. However, Jeff has come up with a handy way to remind ourselves of it by simply adding one letter to a term all educators are familiar with.

How creative are the students in your district/school/classroom? Are you building an environment that allows creativity to develop? Many of our schools stifle creativity in the elementary years. As our students get older, we begin to focus more and more on high stakes testing and teaching to those tests. Yet, in doing so we neglect some of the most important aspects of our students needs: creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills. The closing keynote for the TCEA2010 conference this year was by Erik Wahl. His entire keynote was focused on the lack of creativity in schools today. Erik is an amazing artist, yet in elementary school he was told he was wasting his time drawing and so he put down his crayon. He didn't pick up another crayon until he was in his twenties. One comment from one teacher cost him upwards of twenty years worth of art. How many students have this happen every day?

We must encourage creativity! Not stifle it. We must embrace the arts and make sure we are teaching S.T.E.A.M. not just S.T.E.M. Make sure you keep a box of crayons handy. :)