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Prove it! August 7, 2007

Posted by davidit in Education, Education 2.0, ICT Integration, Inquiry Model, Web 2.0.
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I was reading the latest and I have to say rather melancholy post from the Artichoke site today, what stired me was this quote:

What is it like to attend school for year after year after year without leaving “an impression  along the verge”?
What is it like to be anonymous to the institution, the department, the teachers, and to the other kids?
What is it like to be the kid that your secondary school subject teacher cannot identify without reference to the mark book even with the enrolment photograph for reference?
What is it like to be the kid who transferred after the first week but still receives glowing comments about how they were progressing in physical education in the term 1 report?
What is it like to be marginalised and ignored by the institution?

It was a sad indicment of life for students in many schools.  I can recognise those kinds of wallpaper children in primary schools, the lack of personal impact upon an institution is not the sole preserve of secondary schools, although it is easier to not be noticed at a secondary school.  Really what struck me where the school leaver statistics further further on in the post.  These statistics indicate the level of  irrelevance that many of our students see in the institution that they are forced to spend 40 weeks a year in.  I suspect that this sentiment is  not the sole preserve of  New Zealand students either.

Pam suggested that a possible solution was for students to have a total number of years education credit, so that those students that opt out early can come back into the system, at a later point and not be financially penalised because they voted with their feet.  A good plan.  At the heart of those statistics is the lack of relevance, sustained interest and inclusion that those early leavers evidently feel.  It is very rare that when you go to the cinema, another very passive one way interaction, that you see anyone leave before the end of the show.  I know that it is a trite comparison, but it has a kind of relevance.  The audience does not leave because they are to some degree engaged and their interest is being sustained, kind of!  Clearly schools do not perform as well as a B movie in this respect!  Most of us have sat through a compellingly awful movie, that on reflection was simply dire but despite this, still felt compelled to stay to the end, just to see what happened!  How many invisible students can say that of their schooling?

To get back to schooling it would seem to me that students are voting with their feet.  The school system is not meeting their needs, it is not engaging them and often seems remote and irrelevant to them, so they leave.  So what does this have to do with the Supertanker?  Well we are just a term into our project of  ICT enriched classrooms (we are struggling to find a phrase that best describes them!  C21classrooms is my preference, but currently I have no takers!) already we are having to find proofs that the investment is proving to be worth it, that the numeracy and literacy standards are not dropping for the students lucky enough to be in one of these ICT enriched rooms!  Rather alarmingly we also have to demonstrate how significantly better this investment in equipment is proving to be for student attainment.  One of the teachers in the project has taken the bull by the horns and has started to develop comparative excercises called paper and digis to see just what the positive impact might be.  You can see her results so far here.

What alarms me is having to justify with graphs and charts the finacial spend for improved student attainment.  I understand that we have to do this to get more money to invest in more classes with more equipment. The trouble with all of this is that you only have to go into these classrooms to witness the joy and energy on the children’s faces, the way that they are going about their work, the energy and enthusiasm they are universally displaying towards their work is obvious.  It is almost as if they are saying, ‘finally someone gets it, school work is no longer boring, school work is fun and I now have a stake in what I learn. Thanks guys!’   You can’t quantify this kind of anecdotal evidence in a report the the Board or to auditors, but the evidence is obvious, the students are engaged, motivated are willingly working at home to get more work done.  In short they are loving working in this kind environment, it is their world, their expectation, their technology.  I believe that it is their motivation that is the point that we should building from to then assess their attainment and not the other way round.

The student reaction is in part due to the inquiry model that we are developing, it is true that if you follow an interest then you will be motivated to work.  Inquiry models of differing flavours have been around for educational eons, but it is the ICTs that are making the difference. Ownership is the morticed deadlock and access to quality ICT resources, at the point of learning, is the key to unlock student motivation.   Students with their blogs, wikis, flickr accounts, bubbleshare sliders, youtube videos, skrbl pads etc now have a myriad of ways to access information and present their learning.  They can bring what they do for fun at home into school. Pretty soon they will no longer have to don the conformist, institutionalised practices of school at the school gate and discard them again at 3:00.  Students who have ownership of their learning will soon not only be making an impression on the margins, they will move from the margins and into the text!

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Comments»

1. Rachel Boyd - August 8, 2007

Yes, an interesting post this one. I totally agree with you about it being hard/pointless to use data and results to back up or ‘justify’ our use/integration of ICT. Boards and most Principals seem to prefer graphs and spreadsheets to anecdotal evidence and what’s actually coming out of our students’ mouths!

On a lighter note; I LOVED your “Where in the World is Meadowbank” presentation….. was a hit in my class too. I’m just waiting to get back my macbook (it’s at the ‘doctors’) and then I can start to make a “Where in the World is Nelson Central”. Also I am interested in the animator that you used and noted that it’s cross platform so I’ll have a play with that too.

Cheers, Rachel

2. David - August 8, 2007

Rachel, thanks for the comment, the recipie for making the Where in the World is Meadowbank video was as follows:

Blender – I used blender to create the school logo, then animate it and export the result to an AVI file.

Google Earth – Locate your self and then pull out as far as you want to go, ready to zoom in again

CamStudio – Use CamStudio, sorry not sure if there is a Mac version, to capture that part of the screen that you wish to be part of your video. Start recording.

Use the zoom function on Google Earth to zoom back into your location, then stop recording. CamStudio can either export to AVI or to SWF format. You can then load your completed films to iMovie or whatever your choice of film editor is and after that you know all the moves to get it to Teacher Tube.

Thanks for the comments and keep watching. I am currently working on a timelapse project that will be posted… Will let you know when it has been launched!

3. Miss Thomas - August 8, 2007

The worst bit is that the person who wants all the data hasn’t even read mine yet!!!

Thanks for the link in your post – it makes me feel like it was worthwhile collecting it and I will continue to persevere.

4. Fiona - August 8, 2007

On the subject of ‘proving it’ and evidence, think we also need to take care with how we interpret and represent evidence in any form…twice in the last couple of months I have heard John Key say “1/5 of NZ kids are leaving school not able to read, write and do maths”.

mmm thats 20% of all school leavers I thought…thats a lot….scary. Anyway I emailed (4 times) to find out the source. I was sent this.

Mike Hollings, 2005 ERO Annual report:

“New Zealand’s best students perform with the best in other countries but there is a group at the bottom, perhaps as large as 20 percent, who are currently not succeeding in our education system. Recently released international information shows some encouraging signs of improvement but there is much more to be done. The area where we are least effective is in identifying these students. We need to collect data about them and their achievement in order to find out more about their needs.”

So then I went to Statistics NZ… http://tinyurl.com/2eaeff

“In the decade from 1991 to 2000, approximately 9,000 young people left high schools each year with no formal school qualifications…By 2000, the number of school leavers without qualifications was close to 10,300, or 19 percent of all young people leaving school that year. This decade high was also reached in 1996.

I am not disputing there is a problem but I do believe John Key has not represented this data accurately when he says… “1/5 of NZ kids a re leaving school not able to read, write and do maths”.

OK I know he wants to be PM but I don’t believe these statements do anything to actively address the failure of our education system to meet the needs of this group of students. What I really want see is something more up to date as he is also basing his original comment on data that is now seven years old!

By the way…. you have been tagged Meme: 8 Random Facts


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