Friday, November 30, 2012

Gene Predicts Sleep Patterns and Time of Death

A fascinating article on a gene discovered by Harvard doctors that can predict the best times to plan daily activities and, when the time is right, what time of day you're most likely to pass away....

Gene Helps Influence Sleep Pattern and Time of Death

The Future Of Learning, Networked Society

I found this video at Karl Schaefer's blog and had to pass it along. The coolest part is Knewton - individualizing learning and creating individual paths for success. A grand idea to be sure, but a glimpse into the future...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Avoid the Artificial Maturity Trap

I thought this was a timely post relating to how we perceive our kids in a society that pushed them toward adulthood far too quickly. One very nice thing about a K-8 model is that we have the ability to "keep them young" because we don't have the downward pressure of high school life.

How to Avoid the Artificial Maturity Trap

Old School Can Still Work

At Canterbury we are in the midst of a big push to integrate technology in the classroom. However, we are intentionally taking a balanced approach so that we aren't throwing the baby out with the bath water so to speak.

In 5th grade our writing curriculum steps up in terms of expectations and output. In Nadav Avital' (5th Grade Humanities and Composition) capable hands, however, students are guided step by step through a variety of different types of writing from research to personal narrative to expository and beyond. I was in his classroom this morning and was expecting some heavy techie work going on as they were discussing a writing strategy.

Instead, I found charts galore - fastened in all corners of the classroom - with examples, webs, highlights, and underlines to help the students as they wrote their own pieces. So, after an earlier post about how Google is enhancing the educational experience of our middle school students through the collaborative nature of its Apps, I wanted to take a moment to make sure everybody understood that the time-tested and effective pedagogical approaches are not being neglected in our classroom.

Why Google?

This year we have moved our students and teachers over to Google as a platform for student work. The alacrity with which the students and teachers have embraced this transition has been breathtaking. I thought it would be time well spent outlining how we are using the new Google platform, present a few anecdotes from the classroom, and orient us towards how this could be used in the future.

One note is that we are hardly the first school to be using Google in the classroom or as a base platform for student work. Google offers a school-specific platform for student-to-student, teacher-to-student, and teacher-to-teacher collaboration that is free. What follows are the different ways in which we are using Google with our students.

What We Are Using

  • Google Drive: We are using the Google Drive App as our new server. All student (and teacher) work is saved to their Google Drive account. Google Drive (and all the Google Apps) are cloud based, which means the content and material can be accessed from anywhere the student can get access to a computer (or tablet or smartphone) and WiFi (or 3G or 4G data plans). 
  • Google Docs: Docs is Google's version of the Microsoft suite of software. A Doc is essentially Word, Presentation is PowerPoint, and Spreadsheet is Excel. Additionally, there is a Form and Drawing app within Google Docs. The best part, almost any file or document can be uploaded and converted to a Google Doc and then shared with collaborators.
  • Google Sites: Sites is the website template that Google offers. Students and teachers can use this App to create websites that can act as static websites or collaborative wikis. We are using Sites most prominently in the 8th grade Portfolio program
  • Google Blogger: Blogger is the blogging App. Teachers and students can use this to develop blogs on subjects or projects. We are using Blogger to manage our production of Honk, as well as for our Science classes

Some Examples

  1. 8th Graders are sharing their introductions to the Portfolio products and mentors and Mr. Skeen are offering feedback and revision directly to the students in almost real time. 
  2. Mr. Schoultz is sharing worksheets with children for homework. They need only sign into Google and go to their Drive and their homework is ready for them to complete. When it comes time to "hand in" the homework, they need only press Share. 
  3. Mr. Vogel is using the research tool on Google Docs to leverage the power of the Google search engine to find scholarly articles on a research paper topic and provide proper citation in 0.000098 seconds. 
  4. Mr. Carrick is sharing a selection from The Outsiders to his class, showing the document on the screen and students, when called upon are highlighting and discussing the different examples of imagery. 
  5. Mrs. Niegelsky is sharing notes from class directly with a student who was sick, so they can use them complete the homework. 
  6. We have sent out multiple surveys that have been created with Forms. Parent/Teacher conference sign up is done through a Spreadsheet. 
  7. Mr. Skeen is taking video of his students first attempt at a dramatic speech, sharing it via a private YouTube link, and providing feedback and pointers directly through a Google Doc that is linked to the video. 

How You Can Learn More

John Schoultz, our Middle School Technology Coordinator, has offered multiple workshops for parents on how we are using Google in the middle school. If you are interested in learning more please contact him at

Genius vs. Talent

I came across a blog post by Daniel Pink that referenced an article he wrote delineating between genius and talent. The most interesting part was his selection of two quotes. From the post:

Two quotations in the stories stuck with me. The first comes from Mihaly Csikszentmilhalyi, who wrote:
“The unifying similarity among geniuses and innovators is not cognitive or affective but motivational.  What is common among them is the unwillingness or inability to strive for goals everyone else accepts.”

The other is from Arthur Schopenhauer:
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”

Very interesting point and one we as educators often misconstrue as defiance or day dreaming. Perhaps in the 21st Century world we need to orient ourselves to talent and genius.