You Should Read… (March 12, 2012)

My blog has been off and on for the last little while due to technical difficulties but luckily (for myself) I have temporarily fixed it!  This is all a part of the learning curve!

Here are some really interesting videos/articles that I have seen in the last little while.

1.  Can Skateboarding Save Our Schools – A very interesting idea on using skateboarding as a model for assessment and at about 9 minutes (watch this), the speaker uses a great example of why grades are really tough to use when learning a new skill; you either can or cannot do it sometimes.  You may not agree with what the ideas that the author suggests, but it is a great ‘real-world’ example to spark discussion.  Isn’t that what we want in our learning communities?

2. Slacktivism – Another great post by Shelley Wright discussing the Kony 2012 video that has quickly went viral (here is a great Ted Talk on why videos go viral) and is all over both mainstream and social media.  The discussions that the Kony video are fantastic although not everyone agrees with the way it has been done.  Here is what Shelley has to say:

Here’s the problem, while the video correctly informs us Kony is a dangerous man who needs to be stopped, the solutions it offers are decidedly white, North American and ill-informed. Throwing North American money at a problem, at best, rarely solves it, and at worst, exacerbates it.

Essentially, the premise of the video is that Kony has abducted thousands of children and needs to be stopped. The solution? All of us who stand for truth and justice should be the ones to stop Kony. How? We mobilise as many people as possible to lobby influential artists and politicians to stand up for the cause, which in turn will pressure Obama to keep the 100 troops deployed to Uganda in place until Kony is caught. Once Kony is caught, or killed, all will be good.  But will it? Do we honestly believe Justin Bieber is the Ugandan people’s best hope? Doesn’t that overestimate our ability and underestimate theirs?

If anything, educators are learning more than ever to not simply jump on a bandwagon behind these types of global initiatives, but more importantly to think critically about what is happening and it means to our world.  There is so much to learn not only about our past, but our present.  This article talks about the opportunities we have to discuss this with our students:

So here’s the positive side of Stop Kony: it’s an open door to have those tough conversations with kids who are mature enough to handle them.

Practically every teenager I know has seen and shared the Kony video. It’s always a good thing when youth are encour­aged to think beyond their own borders, and when they’re in­spired to make a difference.

Invisible Children is telling teens and young adults that they can use their powers of social media for good. Those are impor­tant messages.

But we should also encourage our kids to heed some of the critics and come to their own informed conclusions about the campaign. Major kudos to Grant Oyston, an Acadia student, for essentially kick-starting a global dialogue.

Dialogue. Such a great word to be used in the context of our schools.  We need to have it more openly and if anything, videos like this give us great opportunities for learning in our classrooms.

3.  Digital PortfoliosKathy Cassidy, an outstanding educator from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (this is turning into the all Moose Jaw edition of ‘You Should Read’!) discusses her process and learning from doing digital portfolios with her grade 1 students (yes, grade 1!).  Here work has been inspirational in some of the things that we have been trying to do within our own school division.  Kathy has been a leader in this area for several years:

I have been using my students’ blogs as digital portfolios for several years. By the end of the school year, they reflect each child’s learning in many subject areas from the first weeks of school until the last. In addition to showing the development of our writing skills, we make podcasts of our reading fluency at different points in the school year, and show our learning in language artsmathematicssciencesocial studies and health.

I am hoping that sharing this type of resource will push more people into helping students learn to assess their work in a way that they have a solid understanding of their work while also building a very positive digital footprint of their work!

I hope you all have a great week with your students!


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs

4 thoughts on “You Should Read… (March 12, 2012)

  1. ReflectiveTeacher

    “Present our students with opportunities” explains exactly how I feel about this recent viral video. It is an amazing opportunity to take advantage of the engagement (instead of the usual apathy) to educate students about global issues, media literacy, social media, the power of change etc.
    I wrote a blog post about how to use the hype in the classroom here:

  2. Tia Henriksen

    Hi George,

    I love that skateboarding video. It was a great representation of assessment to which even non-skateboarders could relate. That is what assessment is all about (or should be about). It isn’t about how long it takes to get there, it’s about getting there. It’s isn’t about grading you on the way, it’s about being able to do it or not. I really enjoyed this video when you posted it first on Twitter. Glad to watch it again.

    We have been so fortunate to have my daughter in a class with a teacher like Kathy Cassidy. I feel connected to what my daughter does in school because her teacher regularly updates her class blog and the students regularly post items on their individual student blogs. It is so exciting to be a large part of my daughter’s education (at home and at school), even though I am never actually AT her school. Karen, my daughter’s teacher, was really looking forward to meeting you when you came last week. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t get to meet and talk with you.

    Thanks for your post and inspiration.

  3. Dan Machacek

    Hi George,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and creating this resource. All of the mentioned above are very real and relevant to our school and the world we are living in.

    Thanks for your post!

  4. Dan Machacek

    Hi George,

    Thanks for sharing your thinking and creating this resource. All of the above that you mentioned are very real and relevant in the world our school is living in.

    Thanks for your post!

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