Research Travel Tour
 – I was looking for locations that would help students conduct research, learn about research, and talk to others about research.  I tried to find a variety of sources that will offer students different options when completing projects involving research.  These sites make students responsible for their own learning, justify their research decisions, and make changes based on others inputs.  Not only do these sites provide avenues for research, they provide a learning community in which the student can develop professional and personal relationships.  While some sites help kick-start the research, some help continue it, while others help reflect about it.

Second Life Locations

  • Mecha Tiki Research
    • This location offers you access to different types of research with an overall art theme.  This allows you to experience some variety in your research and will give you some new ideas of things to include in your teaching.


  • Rockcliffe Deep Research Learning Environment
    • This location allows you to access different libraries, journals, and web sites that are dedicated to helping you conduct research and then cite the sources you have used.   For example, you can access here which will help you find resources in libraries near you.





  • Cedar Island
    • This location allows you to explore an area and see what other people have left behind for you to experience.  You can also access The Cedar Island News website which gives you access to blogs, and which is used as a laboratory for educational projects.





  • State Library of Kansas

So, the world is flattening; we all need 21st century skills.  Having a child or planning on having one?  How is this for planning?  What will our child need to know? (And what do we still need to know?)

“What are the jobs?” one of the guests asks.  The father says, “Children born today will spend part of their life abroad.”  What skills will they need?  Creative problem-solving, communication, quantitative and qualitative skills.  Middle-class will no longer mean “routine work.” Cue the Jetsons theme song.  Robots, fewer teachers, adaptability, high-level thinking.

Schools should and can teach creative problem-solving.  Check out Sarah Gardner’s report on NPR and then…be prepared to prepare.

Educators, mount up!

October 25, 2010

“We as educators must become more literate ourselves in understanding the requirements of an increasingly technical and interconnected world. ”  Well, said, Ms. Davis, in her recent Cool Cat Teacher blog.

In this post, Ms. Davis focuses on new and emerging modes of writing.  Not only are 21st century learners writing traditional essays, they are blogging, posting, updating, collaborating in Google docs, Wikis, etc.  Curriculum must and can expand to include these emergent and influential forms of writing.  Therefore, it is first and foremost our challenge as educators to be abreast of these forms so that we are able to keep learners involved. 

A Timeless Manifesto

October 11, 2010

A recent read of The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman made me return to Marx and his Materialist Conception of History . This is truly a philosophy as it extends past its original historical, social, and cultural context.  Its kairos extends to contemporaneity globalization.

As long as there is as struggle between classes and the obsession with competition (Modern Times, anyone?), the materialist history can be accepted as presented by Marx.  As that divide between classes continues to grow, so does the timeless of the work. See the Gus Hall Action Club post explaining the role of the proletariat.

Marx explains, “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”  His use of the word “modern” shows his kairos in his rhetorical situation.  However, because it can be extended to present “modern” times it becomes a work of philosophy.  He continues, “The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country…All old-established national industries have been destroyed… They are dislodged by new industries…In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants…”  This is particularly true when assessing the state of industry and production in the contemporary United States.

His work uses a subtle pathos to appeal to the feeling of complete desperation, “The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labour, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character.”  As long as the sense of isolation and the divide between those with wealth (and cultural capital) and the proletariat exist, it will function beyond its original rhetorical situation.

The use of pathos is effective for maintaining the kairos today.  “In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”  This pathos (exploitation, shameless, brutal) is directly related to the techne of the message, which suggests that something will be done-that is something to change the situation.  Even the use of second person, that would normally attach a work to its rhetorical situation, continues to persuade with pathos. “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property… In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”  This intention, combined with pathos allows the message of Marx to exist outside of its rhetorical situation and as a result is considered philosophy.  A philosophy that is very relevant to the “flattening of the world.”

Facilitating learning

October 8, 2010

I do not teach.  I “facilitate learning.”  This is hard for many of my students to understand.  Many want me up in front, behind a podium reading my notes, or flicking through PowerPoint slides.  Why?  Because it’s easy.  It’s easy for the student to sit back and not participate, not engage.  However, I refuse to give them what they want.  (This refusal is sometimes commented upon in my semester student reviews…one student explained, “She doesn’t teach, has the students do all of the teaching.”  Exactly.)  David Warlick has a great blog post discussing the role of the student as learner. 

Therefore, I present this information about myself at the beginning of the semester, so that the student can be aware of my expectations:

My purpose is to provide students with practical knowledge of problem-solving skills while facilitating self-actualization to bring about fundamental, social and cultural change in society through education. My students must be self-directed and highly motivated, assuming responsibility for their own learning. My students are voluntary participants.

My role is that of a facilitator–to support the learning process. I believe in experience learning, open discussions, self-assessment, cooperative learning, critical discussion, freedom and empowerment.

Therefore, this class will change with each of you–so be flexible.

Comments for Christensen

October 5, 2010

I am reading Clayton Christensen’s book, Disrupting Class, It is certainly well-written and easy to read; however…

Test scores have not budged…however, the text does not explain that tests are renormed and that in reality, we are continually achieving better as a result.
Is it education’s role to fix society, or society’s to help education. Can education change society?
Recent findings suggest that people have a learning preference, not a leaning style.
Does anyone know how much more it costs a special needs child in the state of Iowa? Does this continue to higher education?
Standardization of schools: is it necessary? In a country that values efficiency over all, is individualized education not valued?
Can capitalism support individualized instruction? (particularly initially)
I certainly think of Foucault’s direct comparison of factories and schools with prison, in Discipline and Punish.

Is the nation really at risk? Some reports say that the US is “achieving well.” Are we using the same means to measure achievement? Can countries be compared, with their cultural and social differences? Would we compare children with differing cultural and social backgrounds in the same way?
Check out the Iowa Public Radio discussion with Joel Best.Joel Best/Douglas Wood. Absolutely eye-opening.

Should education be about liberal learning or about vocation? John Dewey debates. In the end, I believe he suggests that we do both. I try to support vocation through liberal learning. It should not and does not have to be one or the other.
Are we failing? Again, many believe that the US is doing well. International students still flock to the US for post-secondary schooling.
SAT scores drop because of renorming. The questions change, the norms change, the individuals taking the tests change. Can we ethically compare scores from decades ago?
Can and should we be using universal methods of achievement considering differences (language, language ability, cultural values, socio-economic background, cultural capital)?

The analogy with business (and success) is troublesome. Perhaps society needs to shift its thinking from education as a business in order for it to be successful. After all, these examples are discussing meeting market demand and appealing to a broad audience, when in fact, effective education does the opposite. It emphasizes the individual and meets needs in an individualized way.
I suspect, and am hopeful, that the text will address this. Often it appears that educators and administrators are looking to use technology as a replacement.
Page 83 explains that instruction has not changed much since the introduction of computers. If this is true, perhaps before seeking to “replace” traditional instruction with technology, the two can be joined to create something new and innovative.  More to come… The Today Show

Accountability, accountability, accountability.  National curriculum?  National objectives?  “Buying into the system?”  Accountability, the accountability is in the standards.  International benchmarks? Have we stopped considering each student as an individual?

A bright spot: new ways to measure the achievement, outside of the “fill in the bubbles.”  There is much room for improvement in how “proficiency ” or “achievement” is defined and measured by NCLB in its current state.  I guess we get to wait and see.  I, as I must admit, am overly skeptical.