Podcast #62 Twitter This! Once Upon A Podcast . . .

Items, Events, Calendar, Eclectic Stuff (truc et chose)

  1. NMSA’s Middle Level Essentials Conference April 23-24, 2009. Robert Balfanz will be keynoting.  He has done a bunch of research on 6th grade transition factors that has been cited by NMSA.
    • “Robert Balfanz is a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University and associate director of the Talent Development Middle and High School Project, which is currently working with more than fifty high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive whole-school reforms. His work focuses on translating research findings into effective reforms for high-poverty secondary schools.

      Balfanz has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. Recent work includes Locating the Dropout Crisis, with co-author Nettie Legters, in which the numbers and locations of high schools with high dropout rates are identified.  He is currently the lead investigator on a middle school-dropout-prevention project in collaboration with the Philadelphia Education Fund, which is supported by the William Penn Foundation.

      Balfanz received his PhD in education from the University of Chicago.”

  2. NMSA ‘09 Invitation Video
  3. Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Annual Conference March 12 & 13 at White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township.  Mr. Ron Clark will be keynoting. Approximately 20 days left for the early registration discount.
  4. Ohio Middle School Association’s Annual Conference will be February 19-20 in Sandusky, OH.  Keynote speakers this year include Mr. Mark McLeod and Mr. Ty Sells.
  5. North Carolina Middle School Association‘s Annual Conference will be March 16-17 in Greensboro, NC.  Keynote speakers include Bill McBride and Rick Wormeli.  Ron Williamson from Eastern Michigan University will also be speaking at the conference this year.    
  6. The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform will be holding their annual conference in June.  See the flyer at their website for details.
  7. Teacher Preparation Symposium information at NMSA.
  8. NMSA is accepting presentation proposals to their Annual Conference in Indianapolis next year.  The deadline has been extended to February 8, 2009.  Applications can be made online.
  9. Interested in a Science Quiz show online and in a virtual game show environment?  Try The Second Question.
  10. NECC is coming this summer!  Here’s an excuse to travel to Washington D.C.
  11. If Mr. Berckemeyer dawdles on getting us the Kindles, soon we’ll want these from Plastic Logic.  “Did you bring pencil, eraser, and epaper with you to class today?”
  12. Classroom 2.0’s Ning Blog:  “The topic this Saturday (January 31) is “Classroom Blogging” with guest speaker Kathy Cassidy, author of blog “Primary Preoccupation”. Kathy will discuss classroom blogging platforms, the pros/cons of blogging platforms and how she uses her classroom blog with her students. Our Newbie Question of the Week will be: “What is a blog and how do I find good blogs to read?”  Information on how to watch or join in at http://live.classroom20.com.
  13. Second Life notices:

Shout outs:

  1. Paul Nichols, thanks for letting us know you’re listening!
  2. Ron Miller, thanks for the email.
  3. Jenny McAvoy-Anteau, congrats on your SL presentation!

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Web Spotlight:

Once Upon a School
This site is an online initiative developed in response to author and philanthropist Dave Eggers’ 2008 TED Prize wish to inspire and collect the stories of private citizens engaged in their local public schools. Each year, three individuals are granted the TED Prize, which provides winners with a wish to change the world, $100,000 in seed money, and the support of the TED community in making the wish come true. Dave looked to the community to build a website that would collect these stories. 826 National, Hot Studio, and Carbon Five stepped up and created Once Upon a School.
Check out some of the Stories for ideas.


Challenging Assumptions About Online Predators

Sunday, January 25, 2009; Page F01- The Washington Post
The study, released by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, finds that it’s far more likely that children will be bullied by their peers than approached by an adult predator online.

Alas, there’s no easy fix for the risks that children face on the Web, according to the group that authored the report. The Berkman Center’s Internet Safety Technical Task Force reviewed 40 technologies designed to protect children online, but none won an endorsement.

Parents’ concerns about Internet predators are sometimes overblown, said Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.org, but it’s nearly impossible to tell how overblown they are; when quizzed about online activity, kids don’t usually tell the truth if their parents are around, she said.

“One stupid little form just needs a checkbox,” Aftab said. Without better data, “we might as well hang up our hats and go fishing.”


Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games.
“No one medium is good for everything,” Greenfield said. “If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet. Each medium has costs and benefits in terms of what skills each develops.”

“By using more visual media, students will process information better,” she said. “However, most visual media are real-time media that do not allow time for reflection, analysis or imagination — those do not get developed by real-time media such as television or video games. Technology is not a panacea in education, because of the skills that are being lost.

“Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary,” Greenfield said. “Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills. Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy. Many students do not read for pleasure and have not for decades.”

These and other studies show that multi-tasking “prevents people from getting a deeper understanding of information,” Greenfield said.

Gates Foundation to show excellent teaching

Billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates says his foundation hopes to post online videos of exemplary teachers plying their craft as a way to inspire other educators and help students learn. “It is amazing how big a difference a great teacher makes versus an ineffective one. Research shows there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school,” he wrote.
“Whenever I talk to teachers, it is clear that they want to be great, but they need better tools so they can measure their progress and keep improving. So our new strategy focuses on learning why some teachers are so much more effective than others and how best practices can be spread throughout the education system so the average quality goes up.”

Listeners who Write:

Fellow technology advocates

I love technology. There is no doubt. With my iPhone in hand, Macbook in lap, and hardware graveyard in my attic, no one would accuse me of supporting the luddite movement any time soon. My belief in the use of technology in education is sacrosanct.

Therefore, when a book came to my attention entitled “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future,” I was compelled to digest the studies and inevitable conclusions within its pages. In summary, author Mark Bauerlein makes the point that our youth, who have vastly more available to them than previous generations thanks to technology, are an ill-informed and time-wasting group of individuals whose cavalier digital lifestyle threatens the very core of our american heritage.

Compelling statistical data from various studies seem to show that the vast digital resources available to our youth are wasted on video games, chat, uploads and downloads, texting and social networking instead of thoughtful reading and study or civic responsibilities.

At the very least, this book is an eye-opening tale of how careful we must be in the facilitation of technology to our students in school and children at home. I recommend it as a alternate perspective to the belief that students always benefit from their immersion in all things digital.

Happy reading!