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Showing posts from August, 2011

Cooperative Learning, Groups in Action

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I had the pleasure of joining about 40 teachers last week for a three day workshop on Creating Effective Groups (Social Theory) led by Barrie Bennett.“The key focus in this session is to shift effective group work beyond the idea of Cooperative Learning.”Although I am not a classroom teacher, I saw tremendous potential in this workshop for learning some new skills in facilitating groups.  There are a lot of parallels between classroom group activities and staff meetings, committee meetings, and other group structures which I am familiar with.  The beauty of this experience though is that I learned an awful lot about good teaching and the challenges teachers experience in their classrooms.  I have gained a whole new appreciation for the complexity of good or great teaching.In this post I’ll highlight a few of the techniques we learned in the workshop.  We learned about how and when to use…Placemat Think-pair-share Graffiti Ranking Ladder PMI (plus, minus, most important) Community Circ…

The Power of Innovation

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Innovation is looked to for progress and improvement.  Looking back through history we see untold examples of inventions, improvements, and innovative people to whom we owe our thanks.  Our world today and the “miracles” we enjoy are a result of continuous innovation.in·no·va·tion – noun1. something new or different introduced 2. the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods I don’t know about you but I am continually amazed at the innovations we see in our midst.  Take the iPhone for example.  Who would have predicted this amazing device?  It seemed to emerge out of nowhere – one day it’s just here and you can buy it.  Or think about other tech inventions like Google search, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Microsoft Kinect.  How about penicillin, vaccines, and other wonder drugs – before these “appeared”, people’s lifespans and quality of life were shorter and lower.Interestingly, there are those that suggest that innovations are predictable.  Via Clive Thompson’s article The Br…

Greed, Economy, and Education

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I am about 60% of the way through Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph Stiglitz.  Joseph is a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Studies and covers this topic very thoroughly.  Freefall is an fascinatingly honest retelling of the 2008 great recession and an exposing of the greed and corruption that essentially caused one of the greatest transfers of wealth in recent history.  Self-serving banks loaned money to people who couldn’t afford it based on the “value” of their home growing perpetually and the government allowed it to happen.   Wealth has evaporated from millions of people through loss of home and job around the world – wealth has been transferred to already very rich individuals from poor and middle class people.  The US government has borrowed at unprecedented levels (the burden is on “the people”) and through bailouts given 100’s of billions of dollars to banks with virtually no strings attached due to the fear that …

Tool Users

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I just read another blog post questioning the need for students to have their own digital tools and advocating for more face time with each other and their teacher.  I find the debate, along with some of the commenters on that post, to be somewhat baseless.  As we all know, tools on their own or in the hands of the uninitiated, are useless, misused, or even dangerous.  Why is it that educators continue to question the value of the greatest learning tool of all time – the computer (and it’s derivatives)?  I think the answers might include a fear of losing control, of not being the center of and key to student learning.  I understand.  I see the disruption that technology is creating for my area of expertise – Information Technology – and worry about the same things.  For me, that means that I have to either figure out my place in the disrupted real world or be displaced… not something I take lightly for sure.  As to tools versus face to face, my view is that it has to be both today as …