Category Archives: Education
CBC The Current interviews – Dr. Frances Jensen and Dr. Robert Epstein -Research Psychologist
North American culture enables a longer and longer adolescence which is not substantiated by science?( Teenage) Is the lack of right of passage a contributor? Does our culture enable a large population of anxious, dependent and disfunctional young adults? More>
Now — thankfully — not every teen follows precisely in the frazzled footsteps of those dazed and confused kids, but practically every teenager has, at some point, left their parents confounded at their behaviour… asking, why oh why do teenagers act the way that teenagers do? It’s almost as if they’re another species.
• Inside your teenager’s scary brain — Tamsin McMahon, Macleans
Dr. Frances Jensen has spent a lot of time studying the teenage brain, and she says that it’s definitely human… It’s just not yet fully developed. And those days of daze and confusion represent a critical stage, full of vulnerability, and opportunity.
Dr. Frances Jensen chairs the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. She’s written a new book called, “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.” (The Teenage Brain )
“The Teenage Brain: Uniquely Powerful, Vulnerable, Not Fully Developed | CBC The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti | CBC Radio.” The Current. Ed. A. Tromonti. CBC Radio, 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. < http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2015/01/13/the-teenage-brain-uniquely-powerful-vulnerable-not-fully-developed/ >. CBC The Current AnneMarie Tromonti
A brief thought this morning. I was reading through my Twitter stream over a cup of coffee and found a tweet of a Mindshift article from back in June on what the “next-generation” school library looks like. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of good ideas in the article, many of which I explore in my own space, but these are not new. Or at least the ideas behind them aren’t. The more we speak of how libraries are different than in the past, the more we do a disservice to what libraries have always been, long before books were ever “a thing.”
Although I completely understand this debate, the issue isn’t really ‘the device’ but rather the people engaged in the class? Or not. Perhaps a conversation isn’t the correct word when we place 300 Students in a lecture hall with 1 professor? Perhaps having no devices for everyone would re-infuse humanity into the delivery of curricula? I doubt it.
As a high school teacher, I can and do manage a set of expectations around devices. I can teach, ( although often a frustrating aspect) the application appropriateness of devices when teaching a small class. 30 is hard. 300 impossible. Teens do get it even if they don’t like it. I love using technology in my classroom but only for my classroom goals. I hate the idea of technology used as babysitters but I also believe we have a generation who has been raised with that exact thing. ‘Schooling ‘ is a passive thing you do when you have to. Learning is a process with personal intention and technology is implemented when a demand shows itself. Today I see students learning a great deal when choosing not to use technology. In fact I’m seeing a decline the use of devices by some students who already have accepted an intent. Thinking, talking, etc. I often see laptops used by students who have NOT found a purpose or intention for learning. As a reaction, they lean on the equipment hoping it will yield something or just as a prop. The power of devices are to seldom integrated with design but brought into the classroom space with the notion they are needed- like wristwatches or stop lights.
Adult age students who pay tuition bring a different cultural dynamic to the use of laptops or devices in classrooms. What can high school educators learn from this essay topic? Should we be doing anything different?
“It was one kid who unintentionally suggested the idea. He was sitting in the back row, silently pecking away at his laptop the entire class. At times, he smiled at his screen. But he rarely looked up at me.”( Gross)
Clay Shirky, a professor at New York Univeristy, recently asked his students to stop using laptops in class. Another recent study convinced him to do so. The title: “Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers.” A research team in Canada found that laptops in the classroom distracted not only the students who used them, but also students who sat nearby. Meaning, not only do the laptop-using students end up staring at Facebook, but the students behind them do, as well.(Washington Post)
Gross, T. (2014, Dec 30). ‘This year, I resolve to ban laptops from my classroom. ‘ Retrieved Jan 4, 2015, from
When we talk to education leaders about blended learning, we often hear the question, “Does it work?” What they want to know is, “If I fund a blended learning initiative or implement a blended learning program in my schools, can I be confident that it will improve student learning?” Typically, these education leaders can see the potential that blended of aviation history demonstrating that fact.
…student-centered instruction, which in turn can produce strong student learning outcomes. Many schools today are testing and refining their blended learning models in order to figure out how to achieve increasingly stronger student learning results. The success of any blended learning program, however, depends on how well school leaders design and implement it with clear goals in mind
Arnett. “Blended Learning.” N.p., Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. .
Why a leading professor of new media , Clay Shirky, just banned technology use in class – The Washington Post
Stanford professor Cliff Nass discusses his research on multitasking and its effect on the brain in 2009. Nass was a professor of communication at Stanford University, co-creator of the Media Equation theory. He died last year. (Stanford University)
“….despite these rationales, the practical effects of my decision to allow technology use in class grew worse over time. The level of distraction in my classes seemed to grow, even though it was the same professor and largely the same set of topics, taught to a group of students selected using roughly the same criteria every year. The change seemed to correlate more with the rising ubiquity and utility of the devices themselves, rather than any change in me, the students, or the rest of the classroom encounter….(Straus, Washington Post)
As many progressive teacher-librarians are introducing spaces and activity opportunities for creation, most of us should also evaluate the efficiency and worthiness from a learning perspective. It’s not just about any experiential rewards but also about the outcomes that attempt to meet our curricula. I believe there is implicit value in exploring and challenging but there are boundaries as to whether the activities are justified, worthy and cost effective. ‘Play’ -at any age has terrific value but like any decisions professionals make, we must weigh any virtue with our goals.
“Kids have always made in my library.
We encouraged digital and visual and dramatic and rhetorical creativity before, during, and after school. But for a while, I’ve questioned the value of using already heavily used real estate to randomly carve out space for a 3D printer, electronics stations and sewing machines. I had my doubts about the makerspace movement in school libraries.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat with Amos Blanton, project manager of the Scratch online community, and a member of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab. On his profile Amos notes: I design and sustain creative learning environments for people with agency.” ( Valenza )
VALENZA, Joyce. ‘Neverending Search’. Sept. 09-24-2014. (Online)
I think we all should hear about some positive school news because there isn’t to much lately.
BC Cancer Foundation (@bccancer) 2014-06-03, 3:02 PM @kelowna_owls have raised $300,000 for cancer research since 2001! So proud to have you as our partners in discovery! pic.twitter.com/CNIlOPSBoR From Al Smith – @kssreads
I usually reserve this blog for library and learning concepts or issues but heck what is more important than building the sense of community service in students and social commitment than cancer campaigns and science research?
At KSS we lived it with cancer victims in our student body. We still live it with cancer survivors on our faculty. Students, fit wives of PE teachers, Fine Arts teachers- librarians; no one is untouched. At KSS, our Rec Leadership Program includes several classes of teens led by teachers Fane Triggs and Tony Sodaro. In addition to the instruction pieces they volunteer loads of energy and hundreds of extra hours each year to package projects like the KSS CANCER WEEK event. Not just one activity but a comprehensive multi-event/multi-day campaign. It’s not just a letter home. It’s a full scale real world exercise in community service and fundraising. Car washes, breakfasts, HEADSHAVING , Golf tournaments, rallies, …more.., The school has supported the event over the years, as they do so many other large KSS projects because we strive to provide our students with opportunities and experiential learning that includes people skills and learning by doing and sharing the experience as a team. These mostly extracurricular events cannot be easily run in small schools and they cannot be a success without many teachers ( and admin support) working voluntarily in the evenings and during weekends. Big projects mean many extra teachers need to be away from their own children in order to dedicate themselves to KSS students. They don’t do these talks for any extra money. They don’t do it for promotions. They don’t do it for for any other reason than a sense of professionalism and a bond to Owl culture and tradition.
The Cancer Week campaign is now part of our school culture. It’s part of our yearly planning and conversations. I’ve come to be proud of how so many teachers annually dedicate time and energy on various extracurricular projects at KSS that drive community partnerships. We’ve seen how our school can plan and execute large events with notable excellence. Teachers have worked with well with administration, district staff, patents, students and the wide community to build a school project like four decades of Western Canada Basketball, or the notable Encore Music or hosting Debate or BC Provincial tournaments or Student Leadership Conferences… Etc.
These events take heart. They take teachers with skills and volunteerism that very few people understand- especially the Government. Wondrous events like the KSS CANCER WEEK campaign that endure and built hope beyond the classroom walls exist because teachers like Triggs and Sodaro chose to be as resilient as any survivor and don’t lose hope.
Think of the positive impact to thousands students over a dozen years? Who may become future Foundation chairpersons?
Think of a school project that averages a donation of $25000 EACH year?
Share this with those who think ‘those who can’t -teach’ . Those of our community who may be the most gifted and dedicated to people and certainly children- are teachers. That’s worth something!
The Principal of Change blog post by George Couros is a thoughtful and purposeful overview of the common social media concern of privacy in the public online space. I particularly appreciate George’s thesis of teaching students the distinctions and role of ‘public’ content. I have two profiles for Twitter and I’ve reflected on how useful that can or cannot be as a teacher. We do function in particular public profession and also have to be privacy advocates for students. Us king social media as we provide learning opportunities that teach concepts such as ‘public’ has to be a wise consideration.
> During my time over in Australia, there was a lot of talk about the notion of having both a “personal” and “professional” identity on social media.
cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker
> The “personal” account would be one that is used with friends and family, where as the “professional” account would be one that is used with the work that you do in school. Although I understand the notion behind what is being said here, I don’t know if this is what I would really be focusing on when working with students or educators. We should really be focusing on the notion of “public and private” and how that works in our world.( G Couros )
Reblogged by Al Smith
So, the BC Government just released a grocery list of Curriculum amendments. After last years’ BCEdPlan there remains very little consensus. About direction. Consultation was superficial and clouded by election campaign and a severed teacher’s negotiation. Education for a decade since contracts were torn up and policy, designed around Fraser Institute reports, has been in turmoil. Year2000 Royal Commission long forgotten. Despite this, BC public education has excelled. Our children have been served pretty well compared with other global jurisdiction. Spectacular special needs integration, economic crash, teacher relations upheaval and some major social change have all been adapted into schooling as best could be expected.
Perhaps the only trend now I’m sensing is a big disconnect between the stakeholders. Our students don’t follow all the hoopla and are essentially not informed or asked. Perhaps children shouldn’t be consulted either? They are children after all. Professionals and parents should be leading, guiding, parenting- the village should be raising them. Perhaps we have already gone too far already. Helicopter parenting and an enabling school system that is creating a generation of very anxious and neurotic youth. ( medical experts claim so) Some say our children are spoiled, other say they are neglected. I see both every day. I also see beauty and wonderful gifted youth.
Government and parents have a paradoxical love hate relationship. School boards and the Ministry try hard to make parents happy with policy tweaks yet major erosion of services and funding has caused grievances. I say funding because while budgets are large the 21stC has also seen private school underwritten with substantial monies and this has impacted the distribution of resources. A squeeze if you like. The recent CUPE contract to point. Costs have to come from current district budgets. Something in public school service to kids has to give. Duh.
The teacher stakeholder group is indifferent, frustrated if not disheartened. After decades if teaching, I have never seen teachers work so hard and tackle so many variables inside and outside the classroom but my real thesis today isn’t the hardships but the uniqueness of our plight. Teaching isn’t about curriculum or pedagogy or new prescriptive methods discovered in fain land or Louisiana( BC educators are already some of the most skilled and innovative already) it’s about relating to students as people.
I had a young woman drop by our KSS learning commons today and ask for Mr. Smith. :-) Our loyal on the job library assistant Mrs Kole naturally directed her so she could find me. As a hundred times a day, I expected some kind of inquiry about books or technology or whatever… Today was different. Today I was reminded about why teachers and direct relationship building is vital. Connected learning and blended learning is fine but education is greater than the sum of its technical pedagogical parts.
The young lady wanted to know about a few of my acrylic paintings I had recently displayed in the library. On a whim and encouragement from some art students I hung my own art projects in the library. She asked, “someone said you have paintings here, can I see them?” I felt honored if a little embarrassed. I’m not used to that kind of personal inquiry but we had a delightful talk about art, personal motivation and why we try new things.
You see I just started painting this spring because some grade 12 kids coaxed me. I was a quasi fine arts patron at KSS setting up a gallery in the library and trying to help out whenever I could, . visiting shows etc. This delightfully mature girl was on a mission of inquiry. She was seeking a spark of interest. She was reaching out for the human experience. Taking risk. Building personal relationships of exploration and trust such as this, big or small, are priceless investments in our youth. No curriculum or trendy political motivation or school of thought will change that. We need to invest in our people- in our children, not shiny new things. Years ago I liked the expression Hi-Touch over Hi-Tech. I think it still applies more than ever.