Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More than an "Overhaul"

I’ve been thinking a lot about next school year lately. What approach to take with my Freshman English class? What new lessons to implement with my 10th graders? Which new technologies I want to bring into my classroom? Thinking about that leads me into thinking about our education system nationwide. It almost depresses me. It reminds me of my van as I drove to see the Sequoia trees a couple of weeks ago. I began to lose my radiator just out of L.A., but was reassured all was ok for the climb into the mountains. To make a long story short, I lost my transmission due to my radiator not cooling it properly. I’m not a mechanic, but that is what my mechanic back home told me. Anyway, I was given a choice…do I put in a brand new transmission and radiator and get a guarantee OR do I authorize them to “overhaul” the transmission and just have them “flush” the radiator? There are benefits and negatives to both. Obviously, the first one would cost a lot more money, but pretty much assure me a safe and happy ride back home. The first option would give me a three-year warranty. The second option could be the “quick fix” and get me on the road quicker, but will it hold up as I travel through the mountains on the way home? Back to our education system here in America, do we want a quick fix? Do we want to “band aid” the problems? Do we want to do it right? Do we “overhaul” or totally change the way we educate our children? We know that our system is broke, but I’m not sure the “overhaul” will do it. Thousands of teachers are losing jobs due to finances and our leaders are not seeing the impact that it will have on our kids. Some teachers are “stuck in the stone-age” when it comes to methodologies. What will it take for leaders/politicians/administrators to see that education needs to change from the old traditional methods?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cellphones in the Classroom...A Nuisance or a tool?

3.3 billion....approximately 1/2 the population of the earth...have cell phones. The last two years I have been on the totally opposite side of the spectrum of the argument I am about to "endorse". Through research and my love of technology, I have began to try and find a way to use cell phones as a tool within the classroom instead a banning or penalizing students for using them. In the past, I have saw them as a complete nuisance. On several occasions, I would take them from students if I saw them, since school policy required students to keep cell phones in their lockers. Our policy was that the phone would be locked up for 24 hours for the 1st offense, 48 hours for the 2nd. In fact, last year I collected nearly 40 cell phones from students texting when they shouldn't be. You are probably thinking, why embrace cell phones now? I'm asking how am I going to sell the idea to my administrator after being 100% anti-cell phone in the classroom? Cell phones are not going away. The texting and other applications available on phones today is relatively affordable. Information is literally at students finger tips. Cell phones now can be used to shoot video as well. Last year, I saw Vicki Davis present at a conference. Her blog contains daily updates on technology and its use in the classroom. This link focuses on "the case for cell phones in schools". Hall Davidson from Discovery Education strongly advocates the use of cell phones in the classroom. I honestly feel we as educators are "missing the boat", if we are not using the cell phone as a tool. What rules or policies need to be in place when using the cell phone as a tool within the classroom? What happens when a student "crosses the line"? What are your thoughts?