Podcast 58 Natives are Restless, Immigrants are Coming, and Scholars are To-Be-Defined!

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

  1. Alightlearning is looking for votes and support for a software venture that will incorporate technology and education.  They are competing for a $10,000 grant to start-up their venture.  Generalized information is available on the website.
  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.
  4. Ohio Middle School Association‘s Annual Conference will be February 19-20 in Sandusky, OH.
  5. MIT Vocab Contest!:  Have your students produce a video defining standard SAT vocabulary words.  For every 5 videos uploaded one iTunes download will be awarded up to 1000 downloads per the event in total.  In other words, get ‘am in early and often if you’re looking for the iTunes motivator.  Only 1000 available for the entire WORLD!  Oh, and check out the website.
  6. NMSA is looking for nominations for the Board To nominate yourself (or Troy) click here or go to the NMSA’s main page.
  7. NMSA is accepting presentation proposals to their Annual Conference in Indianapolis next year.
  8. Interested in a Science Quiz show online and in a virtual game show environment?  Try The Second Question.
  9. NECC is coming this summer!

Web Spotlight:
Created for middle school teachers: A direct path to selective online resources for instruction and professional development from the National Science Digital Library. Enter each subject pathway below to browse a list of topics and take an in-depth look at teachable concepts in science and mathematics.

Letters from our listeners:

Happy New Year to you both

I’d like to consider a differing perspective on the terminology “digital native” vs. “digital immigrant.”

I feel that these categories are as restrictive as other stereotypes which we as educators battle to abolish. We make assumptions that children who grow up with technology are native to it. Yes, they do experience the use of computers, cell phones, DVD’s, wide-screen TV’s with cable and digital downloads, the internet, SMS and AIM at a very young age. But the connotation is that they somehow have an advantage over those of us who as children had B&W television with VHF/UHF-only programming, dial phones hard-wired to the wall, LED calculators, VHS tapes, cassettes, and even computers with a whopping 128k of RAM.

Children are native to whatever they experience as they age. They will embrace the ubiquitous technology with as much fervor as some of us did with our 8-track tapes and AM radios. Does this make them more likely to be successful in its use? Perhaps it gives them a better start. But they are using things that have no context. As teachers, we are well aware of how important context is to what kids learn. We, the so called “immigrants” are not really immigrants at all. If anything, we are the philosophers and archivists of knowledge. We have the context that kids lack because we lived the technology as it changed and grew. For example, ask the average middle school student today about how the Macintosh OS relates to Windows in a historical perspective. They have little clue and don’t even see its relevance. But wasn’t WW I relevant to WW II? Are the military personnel who didn’t grow up with the option of Cruise missiles considered immigrants?

I’m not saying that kids today don’t have a different perspective than many of us in our 30’s, 40’s, or even 50’s. But if anything, we are perhaps the true natives. We lived off the land of tubes to transistors and circuit boards. We evolved in our usage of computers and microwaves, and we had keen perspective  to evaluate, compare and contrast, and contribute to further development. It seems that, at the very least, we need one other category to better describe the generational rift.

Consider the title “digital scholar.” Many of us are walking encyclopedias and history books of technology. We felt, tasted, and touched the evolution, the revolution, and the contribution. We have an altogether different appreciation for what the digital age has given us, and as scholars, we have an obligation to share as much as we can with today’s youth. Because only armed with this context can they bring things forward and make the tough decisions ahead. These digital natives will need to determine the difference between “can we” and “should we.” Let us hope they choose wisely.

Thanks for all your hard work with this podcast.

In the News:

SCSU to help teachers create ‘culturally relevant’ classrooms
Her philosophy is that teachers can instruct students more effectively if they understand their cultural backgrounds.
“People have got to understand the culture in which these kids come from,” said state Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman. Matthews, a former educator, says teachers who are able to grasp students’ backgrounds can motivate them to learn.

Kansas Schools Emphasize Technology, Training
“Technology has changed a great deal since the old purple mimeograph, filmstrip projector and overhead projector that I started with 30 years ago,” Turnbull said. “We thought yellow highlighting markers were a cool tool then.”

The dying art of cursive
Handwriting was reinstated into the Sunshine State standards in 2006, after educators became concerned that it was slipping away from classrooms. According to state guidelines, third-graders must begin learning cursive, fourth-graders must have legible writing, and fifth-graders must be fluent in the script.

Kids not ready for kindergarten cost Minnesota schools $113 million a year

Schwarzenegger seeks education cuts

California schools could eliminate a week of instruction and increase class sizes next year under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new plan for solving the state’s budget crisis.
Matosantos said the state’s plunging economy could have forced far deeper cuts in education than the ones Schwarzenegger proposed.