You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2007.
Surfing around the edublog world this morning and I came across a post touting the virtues of a software package called Super Duper Music Looper. Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m getting up in years and my musical tastes probably reflect that. This product allows kids to produce music tracks–loops–that are a little much for me. Fortunately, if they use this program, they won’t be producing them for me–they’ll be producing them for themselves.
I didn’t wake up this morning planning to shop for music software, but this looks really cool.
The link above sends you to a site where you can download a demo, or try a flash version of the software online. Honestly, the flash version is more satisfying because the demo limits you to one song of their creation. (At least, that’s what I think after playing with it for about 5 minutes.)
Uses for said software? Background music for different video and audio creations. Loops to play in class or other areas for different activities (high energy for PE/recess; calm for a spelling test; in-between for the get-ready-to-go-home routine. The bottom line, as I see it, is that the kids are creating. No, they’re not writing music, but they are creating.
Bonus feature: the list price is $19.95. Hey…I can afford that.
The title of this post is a bit of a joke, actually. I did quite a bit during my break: travel, family, reading, a few things on the ol’ to-do list, and some time just hanging out. I’m not going to write about most of that, though.
This summer I discovered the online realm of the elementary (mostly*) school teacher. When I consider the thousands of classrooms across the country, I realize that I haven’t seen all that many classrooms–but I’ve seen a bunch!
The Internet is host to quite a few caring, talented, competent, and inspiring educators. They blog, they wiki (is that a verb yet?), they compose and maintain websites. Why do they do it? Why do they take the time on top to work online in addition to an incredibly busy schedule? I think it’s because they see the future, and they realize it is in the hands of their students. Digital natives? Not many of them. Guides and pioneers for the digital native? I think so.
Kind of in a maudlin mood. Sorry ’bout that.
*As an elementary educator, I haven’t sought out many middle or secondary educator sites–I’m sure there must be some great ones, though.
Wanna see how classroom 2.0 is done? Mark Ahlness of Seattle, Washington has got it going on!
Here’s his blog: Mark’s edtechblog
Here’s his class’ blog: Room 12
Here’s the intro to a series he’s writing about how he and his class blogged through ’06-07
His post brought up a question that I’m really struggling with: will children (read future generations) “abandon” traditionally published literature in favor of a digital substitute? I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but I’m one of those people that believe our social discourse has been seriously disrupted by the past 15 years of our society consuming “News McNuggets” versus sitting down to read the paper and watching the news in the evening.
In all fairness, the “abandon” question could very well be asked about my generation (I’m 42). Other questions: Did the “oral tradition folks” lament the arrival of the printed book? Did the readers lament the arrival of radio and (shudder) television? Given that change is inevitable, should we just sit back and enjoy the ride? Is my attitude simply a “finger in the dike?” (For those of you scratching your head, here’s a reference for that allusion <grin>.)
I’ve been on a Billy Collins kick lately, but can’t help again shaking my head at the mastery Howard Nemerov had over his words. This one was featured in today’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac.
These golden heads, these common suns
Only less multitudinous
Than grass itself that gluts
The market of the world with green,
They shine as lovely as they’re mean,
Fine as the daughters of the poor
Who go proudly in spangles of brass;
Light-headed, then headless, stalked for a salad.
Inside a week they will be seen
Stricken and old, ghosts in the field
To be picked up at the lightest breath,
With brazen tops all shrunken in
And swollen green gone withered white.
You’ll say it’s nature’s price for beauty
That goes cheap; that being light
Is justly what makes girls grow heavy;
And that the wind, bearing their death,
Whispers the second kingdom come.
— You’ll say, the fool of piety,
By resignations hanging on
Until, still justified, you drop.
But surely the thing is sorrowful,
At evening when the light goes out
Slowly, to see those ruined spinsters,
All down the field their ghostly hair,
Dry sinners waiting in the valley
For the last word and the next life
And the liberation from the lion’s mouth.
Mark Pullen (The Elementary Educator) has written a post he calls “The Definitive Guide to School 2.0.” I think it comes pretty close to living up to its title. His post is based on this premise: “Our kids are living in a world that is very different than the world we adults grew up in.”
It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and debate these days about the decline of education in the US we ignore the most fundamental of its causes. Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.
The two of them present a pretty strong argument.
I’m not prepared to take a strong position on this myself (though I will say it seems to make sense to me with my limited experience as a formal educator), but as I’m reading through all of the above material I hear the echo of a lament that I’ve heard so many times before: The teacher is in the difficult position of being a change agent between a new generation of learners and an older generation of parents, administrators, and legislators. There isn’t fault; there is simply difference.
While I don’t personally feel the testing pressure that I hear other educators speak of, I have to wonder how the “School 2.o” ideal matches the reality of a “high stakes” educational environment. School 2.o (which, again, I find appealing) seems closely related to the constructivist approach (which has its good and bad points depending on the pressures one feels). The constructivist approach, as I see (read about) it, is more popular at the beginning of the school year than it is as testing approaches.
School 2.0? Will it occur before or after today’s students become the first “digital native” generation of teachers?
Recently, Wesley Fryer forced me to realize that I am simply “digitizing school 1.0 (as he put it at NECC)”. While I thought I was using my classroom blog (www.mrfowler.wordpress.com) in an innovative way, I am pretty much just having my classroom have a conversation with themselves electronically. While this does improve typing skills, it doesn’t incorporate conversation with the outside world. For this reason I have a few questions:
1. How do others incorporate blogs into the school day?
2. What type of topics do you blog about?
3. What strategies have been effective in bringing in genuine collaboration between students and professionals in the real world?
I am very anxious to hear what others are doing!
I think it’s something to keep an eye on…
Mark Pullen of The Elementary Educator has some good thoughts concerning the idea of School 2.0. In principle I think it’s a great idea; I’m curious, however, about how to overcome some usage and legal hurdles for my classroom.
– Parent release forms?
– Content issues and the need to moderate comments–will that be an issue?
– Students without ready Internet access
– Worthwhile content. I think that might be the biggest problem. Blogging is relatively new to me, and I haven’t seen many examples of teachers using blogs for more than simple “answer this question” type activities.
While in Ohio I visited the Five Rivers MetroParks headquarters in Dayton. I picked up a series of brochures and maps to take back to Alabama. Why? First of all, I like that they are very well produced–easy to read and nicely laid out. I plan to put them with other pamphlets and brochures that I’ve been collecting to use as examples of “every day” literature. I haven’t decided what type of comprehension activities to build for them, but they will probably be based on the Comprehension Toolkit materials I got last week.