Filed Under (blogging) by Lee Kolbert on 04-12-2010

I’m very excited to announce that our class blog has been nominated for the prestigious EduBlog Award in the category of Best Class Blog. Please take a moment to vote for our class blog.

ThEdublog Awards is a community based incentive started in 2005 in response to community concerns relating to how schools, districts and educational institutions were blocking access of learner and teacher blog sites for educational purposes.

The purpose of the Edublog awards is to promote and demonstrate the educational values of these social media.

The best aspects include that it creates a fabulous resource for educators to use for ideas on how social media is used in different contexts, with a range of different learners.

It introduces us all to new sites that we might not have found if not for the awards process.

Previous winners: 200420052006200720082009

Crossposted on Huffington Post

The term “21st Century student” or “21st Century Classroom” sure gets thrown around a lot. We’re so used to hearing and supporting our pedagogy with it, but have you ever stopped to think about what it really means? There are many qualities that make up a 21st Century student. In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning.

The new taxonomy supports the idea that not all learning objectives and outcomes are, nor should be, have equal in value. Effective teachers frequently refer to this taxonomy to design their instruction to emphasize important learned capabilities (more useful for adults in the workforce) rather than, for example, to emphasize memorization of facts (which makes for easier testing).

With expectations of the future workforce and the proliferation of inexpensive and readily available technology, a new and revised taxonomy (2001) emerged. It plays down the consumer-emphasized, single-player-sport idea of “educational objectives” (in Bloom’s original title) and points to a more interactive idea of what an effective curriculum provides.

Notice that “remembering” although certainly a necessary component to learning, sits at the bottom of this pyramid to higher-level thought processes required for true learning to occur.

Even with today’s emphasis on testing, it’s more important than ever to push our students to achieve higher level thinking. What are some ways that can be done today?

  • First and foremost, parents/families must be involved in a positive way. Students must learn that their parents value their learning beyond the grades achieved on report cards. Parents who engage in competitive conversations regarding which schools their children attend, what page they are on, or what grades they received, might be better off focusing their energy on the learning outcomes of their child’s achievement or lack of. Even with a poor grade on a test or report card, for example, parents can ask, “What did you learn from this?” or “What can you/we do better next time?” rather than, “Why did you get this grade?” The cartoon below from Daryl Cagle had me wondering how I am supporting my own children through their educational journey.
  • Understand and accept the fact that although it pains us (teachers) to reduce children to a grade or score, it’s currently how our system functions and there are many ways to deemphasize grades and focus on the whole child.
  • Effective teachers are harnessing the Internet, specifically the power of blogging, to provide students with opportunities that simply weren’t available even a few years ago.
    • I have my class blog and more importantly, my students have their own blogs where their writing brings them attention, global conversation and motivation for writing more effectively. Check out Lily’s post on bullying, Caroline’s post on Tourettes and Joey’s post on his Karate test. Don’t just read the posts, but also read the relevant and encouraging comments from readers, near and far.
    • Marie Knee, kindergarten teacher, uses video and blogs and interactive sites to create an enriching and transparent classroom where her young students can share their learning with their families and the world.
    • Check out Kathy Cassidy, first grade teacher, for how she shares her students with the world. Teachers, like me, learn daily from these teachers who so generously provide those insights so that we can model our own instruction after theirs.
    • Dan Meyer, high school math teacher, makes math relevant to our real world.
    • George Couros (school principal) blogs regularly. His insights as a school principal create a ripple effect where other school administrators, teachers and students regularly engage in conversation and benefit from his transparent offers to share.
    • There are many, many more examples that you can explore. Scott McLeod’s compilation of exemplary blogs is a good place to start.

So what does all of this mean for you, your classroom and your children? That’s what I’d like to hear from you.

  • What are children able to do today that you have yet to learn (or even understand)? Does that make you feel inferior or empowered to engage in conversations with your children and allow them to teach you (and perhaps move forward in your goals towards success)?
  • What characteristics do the successful adults in your life (family, friends, coworkers) have that make them so successful? Are your children on their way to learning those strategies? What are you doing to help foster this?
  • In your opinion, what ineffective methods are being used with children who would be better served by engaging in flexible grouping, collaborative projects or simply being able take an active part in their own learning?

I look forward to your comments.

Filed Under (blogging, science, Secret Life of Scientists) by Lee Kolbert on 08-10-2010

I’m not going to post too much here, because I want you to read about it on the very cool Secret Life of Scientists site. So, follow some of my students’ work over there and give them some encouragement in their fame by leaving them a comment. Check out my first post about what we’re doing here and the follow-up post here.


Filed Under (blogging, science, Secret Life of Scientists) by Lee Kolbert on 26-09-2010

We hope you’ll follow our class’ adventures with the Secret Life of Scientists as we explore each new scientist and my new blogging “gig.”  Secret Life of Scientists is an amazing website hosted by PBS NOVA where scientists are profiled who also have some very interesting “secret lives.” The current scientist is Molly Woodworth who is not only a neuroscientist but also a CHEERLEADER! How cool is that? You can learn more by watching brief, fun videos about Molly here.

My first post is about our students who are now exploring some ways scientists do their jobs and tools they use. The first question I asked the class was, “What do scientists do?” Their responses (which needed to be spontaneous, with no research) are posted below in the slideshow and will soon be posted on the Secret Life of Scientists site as well.

Check it out!

Filed Under (blogging) by Lee Kolbert on 22-08-2010

In the last post, my students just had their first experience commenting on our class blog. I’m so proud of them for following directions carefully and almost all remembered not to include their last names. For those who forgot, I edited their comments before publishing them. That’s the beauty of being the owner of this blog, I get to have that little bit of power. I will be spending some time with the students helping them understand blogging and commenting and how when it’s done with sincerity and thought, can open a whole new global world of conversation that can help them learn from others; not just me.

Soon the students will be writing for this blog and eventually, the students will have their own (moderated) blogs. The students last year really loved having their own blogging space and I’m looking forward to the day when my new students are ready. For so many students and parents, blogging is a brand new experience. If this is new to you, I hope you will take a moment to watch me and Katie explain how we used our blogs last year (see first video below). This is a segment from PalmBreezeCAFE. You can watch PalmBreezeCAFE on Comcast channels 234 and 235 (at 2:00pm and 7:00pm) and the segments are also available on YouTube.

When you are done, please leave a comment telling me what you think about this class blog.

If you are still confused about blogs, watch this: