Thursday, February 20, 2014

Relationship is Everything

I have long believed that relationship is everything, and Rita Pierson agrees with me. She says,

"Kids don't learn from people they don't like."

Take a look at her TED Talk:

Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion

Sadly, Rita Pierson passed away a few months after delivering this TED Talk. Here are some words of remembrance:

Remembering Educator Rita F. Pierson

What do you think? Do you still believe in the old adage that you don't dare smile until Christmas?

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Not the Technology

I just got an email from our Middle School Media Specialist/Teacher Librarian, Jen Cole, about Comic Master where you can create short graphic novels:

Here's what she said:

"Thanks for this website, Sarah. It was just the hook I needed. I started with rough drafts for students to create before they could get computer access; once I approved those that was their ticket to the website. I told them stories needed one to four characters, a problem, a solution, or if they wanted to write a part 2 they could have a "to be continued" ending.

I am going to use this to scaffold my writing expectations, I have 5-8 grade so some need more of a challenge than others in terms of detailed plots and amount of text.

Here are the pictures, I'm so excited about their engagement, a few of the more pessimistic ones were really self motivated and pretty creative."

This is such a great example of focusing on what we want students to be learning and then using a tool to do that. Writing effectively is one of the most important skills I use in my job. I can think of few jobs where writing isn't important. And, we already know how writing and reading are inextricably connected. If we can take an online tool that motivates students to practice their writing skills, then we've succeeded.

Once again what we see is that curriculum and technology can't be separated. We wouldn't be talking about paper and pencil off on one side and curriculum on the other. The same is true for technology. There should be no separation. Curriculum is curriculum. However, technology takes us so much further than we could go in the past. The students plan, write, edit, and share their graphic novels. They can peer review each other's. They can share their writing with the world. They could even collaborate on a graphic novel. The possibilities are endless. What's important isn't the software or the website or the computer skills. What's important is the planning, the writing, the creating, the editing, the sharing, and the collaborating.

Thanks so much, Jen Cole and students, for sharing!