Monday, June 26, 2006

A Model for Learning

Andy Carvin posted notes from former govenor of Maine Angus King's keynote about the state's 1-to-1 laptop initiative. King discusses the process he went through to get the project rolling and then shares some lessons learned. What really sticks out for me is this.

We should look at law school as a model, because there's too much damn law. Nobody can learn all of it. Instead, you learn how to ask the right questions, identify the issues, and find the law. That's a much better model for kids to learn in a knowledge-rich society. It's a different kind of learning.

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Angus King: A Brief History of Maine's Laptop Program

This approach, central not just to law school but the entire practice of law, works in any field. It speaks to the whole notion of getting away from teaching basic facts and moving toward teaching ways of thinking. How do historians/scientists/writers think about their world? How do we, as teachers, guide our students through the process King is talking about?

The "Big Question" assignment is one I've used to move students toward this process. Students need to come up with a ridiculously BIG question, like "what is love?", and try to answer it using an I-search process. They begin by breaking the big question down into managable chunks--smaller, more focused questions--and start researching those. Once they have researched their small questions, they start looking at how the information they have found fits into their own experience. As they write their papers, I tell them it isn't about right answers; instead, the answers needs to be right for each person, at this moment, knowing what they know. They just need to support their versions of the right anwer with the information they have discovered.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Process of a Podcast

I tried a little off the cuff podcasting yesterday using just a rough outline. Boy did I suck. I'm a talker, but trying to think, come across as intelligent, and form smooth complete sentences was more than I could handle on my first run through.

Breathing was a challenge, too. I just couldn't relax my diaphram, so I kept talking to the point of gasping.

Much of this all comes down to practice, something I need to keep in mind when trying to do audio work with students. Scripts, practice, time for editing all need to be part of the equation, both in my planning and in my conversations with students. Slapping something together last minute just isn't an option for creating a quality product.

Part of the classroom use will be mini due dates. When do various pieces of the production need to be in by so the whole project can be assembled in a timely manner?

Good thing I love learning by doing. There is still much to figure out.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Time to Breathe


Last Friday was the end of the school year for me. We had 69 graduates this year, bringing the total graduates over 300 in the five years Willard alternative has been open. It feels good to be a part of that. I am also very tired.

Sunday, I finished the last class in my Master's program. The past two years have been very good ones. Glad I went through the program; glad it is over.

In one weekend two major responsibilities wrapped up, and now that I have taken some time to catch my breathe, I am looking at the pile of things that built up during that final push. There are 401 posts piled up in Bloglines and at least that many weeds in the yard. I need to get back on my bike. I want to try a podcast or two. Lots of things to get to; most of them are even fun.

Off to it.