Archive | September 2012

Post #2 — Textbook …. or not to Textbook

One of my main goals this school season is to make my classroom more inquiry and technology based.  Well, actually, that has been my main goal for the past 4 years, but I’m moving with baby steps and have been experiencing some growing pains, but each and every year, I am meeting my goal by becoming a little bit more inquiry and technology based.

I am not assigning textbooks this year to any of my students.  That is what I am doing as part of my goal.  According to Thomas and Brown (2011), “We believe…that learning should be viewed as an environment – combined with the rich resources provided by the digital information network.” (p. 35).  I do not have access to computers all of the time, but I am including digital resources as much as possible.

I don’t think bypassing textbooks should be a way to save money.  That is not the issue.  What is at issue is being sure to use current information.  Textbooks are expensive and schools are reluctant to purchase one per student unless they are willing to use them for 5-10 years or even longer.

“And therein lies the major pitfall of the twenty-first century’s teaching model – namely, the belief that most of what we know will remain relatively unchanged for a long enough period of time to be worth the effort of transferring it.  Certainly there are some ideas, facts, and concepts for which this holds true.  But our contentions that the pool of unchanging resources is shrinking..”  (Thomas and Brown, 2011, p. 40).

In her blog, Audrey Watters (http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/hack-higher-education/banality-textbooks ) muses about the banality of textbooks.  She discusses the different e-textbook options that are available to parents and students.  She wonders at the end of her post whether the only benefit is financial.

I think having a set of textbooks in a cupboard ready to use on occasion is the right way to go.  Because information is changing so fast, it is very important for teachers to see textbooks as only one resource to be used amoung many and that students should have access to reliable digital sources whenever possible.

References:

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Seattle, WA: Create Space.

Post #1 — Facebook and Parenting… providing another frame of reference

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I love Facebook. Keeping in touch with and watching the lives of the people I know or once knew is my favorite part of Facebook. It is what I thought I was signing up for when I joined the social network. What I didn’t expect was how it was going to influence the relationship I had with my son and how I approached parenting him.

Brandon just left home two weeks ago for University and the other night I was missing him quite a bit. So, I was glancing through his pictures on Facebook and saw many that I had never seen before. Without Facebook, I would have missed out on this part of his life. Many of them were taken by other people and showed a different side of my son. I saw him surrounded by friends, and having fun. Although we were close and talked on a daily basis, his life with his friends was relatively unknown to me as it is to most parents, I am sure! (Thinking back, I am very sure that my parents didn’t know anything about that part of my life.) Looking through Brandon’s pictures made me think of how Facebook has been a presence in our lives through these years.

I had been a part of Facebook before Brandon and when he wanted to sign up I insisted that I be one of his Facebook friends. I told him that if he unfriended me or blocked me that all access to electronics would be cut off. That was the deal and so we both agreed to Brandon having a Facebook page. He was thirteen years old.

Weeks later when I was scrolling through Facebook on a Monday night I saw my junior high son tagged in pictures taken at a high school party. The comments were what helped me piece it all together. He was supposed to be at a sleepover at one of his friends. A deep conversation and some disciplinary action ensued and I was very thankful for Facebook!

Over the years there were many subtle things that I saw on Facebook that directed my questions and have helped me with our conversations. In a relationship, out of a relationship, posts on God, music and Marijuana; the list could go on and on. I didn’t always like what I was seeing, but reality was right there, there was no denying who my son was on those pages.

In my opinion, wise parents watch their children’s social networking. Not through mistrust, but knowing that when used properly it becomes an additional frame of reference that provides a level of understanding that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Ultimately this could have a positive impact on parenting and on society as a whole.