My Month of September (and August)
There are times when the mind says go and the body says no. Last month was one of those times. The whole family was struck down. This meant skipping the August newsletter. I am subsequently late getting this month out as we have just returned from a week away with the family in Fiji to celebrate ten years of marriage.
On the work front, I have been spending time speaking with different schools about reporting. It is always good to test out the solution. However, it always raises further questions, which I have been progressively working through.
In regards to my learning, I was lucky enough to attend the Google Innovator Energizer, exploring the cultures of change. I also presented at K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference 2018 on blogging and ongoing reporting.
In other areas, I have been listening to Dreams, Emma Louise, Darren Middleton and Troye Sivan. I also managed to get the IndieWeb Reader working. I have used Granary to add in my Twitter feed as a means of responding from my own site. It still is not perfect, but definitely shows a potential for a future where we all own our own data.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
Twenty Two Projects to Challenge, Inspire and Engage Your Students: Bianca Hewes collects together a number of her project outlines that she has created with Canva. As with Kath Murdoch’s inquiry journeys, Hewes provides some great provocations. Although some of them could easily be translated, their strength lies in thinking differently. In addition, I too like Canva and use it to create the covers for this newsletter. For a different take, check out Benjamin Doxtdator’s investigation of the history of PBL.
These project outlines are all based on my PBL model, which is explained in my two books Are Humans Wild At Heart? and Why Do We Tell Stories? Both of these are published through Hawker Brownlow Education and are full of projects for English teachers to run with their students. Please, please if you use these projects OR if you use my model of PBL (discover, create, share), it would mean SOOO much to me if you credited my work. Many of the Praxis projects below were co-created with my very creative colleagues James Blanch and Kate Munro. Please respect our hard work by being thoughtful in your acknowledgement of your sources.
Teaching Boys: Deborah Netolicky reflects on her experience of teaching boys. She highlights three aspects: boys need a safe and trusting environment with high support and high challenge, boys respond to engaging curriculum content and boys benefit from regular, tangible feedback, a mixture of role-models, as well as hope and persistence. As I think about my own experiences teaching and parenting, I am left wondering why these approaches do not apply for girls too? Another interesting read on the topic is Adam Boxer’s question of boys and competition.
Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?
The Game of Quotes: Heather Marshall adapts the game Bring Your Own Book for the classroom. This involves a series of prompts to help think differently about what you are reading. Marshall also discusses creating your own prompts. This activity reminds me of the Hot Seat activity, where students are challenged to think more deeply about the text. I really like the idea of the Game of Quotes as a revision activity.
I created a presentation in Google slides with a couple of prompts. I used animations so that the students wouldn’t see the prompt until it was time, and silent reading instantly became a fun game! The room was filled with laughing, and page turning, and whispers of “I want to read that!” When was the last time a reading log or an online quiz caused a stir of echoes in the classroom?
The “Always Check” Approach to Online Literacy: Mike Caulfield continues his work on fact checking arguing that we need to develop the habit of doing a check every time we engage with a new link. He makes the comparison with checking your rear view mirrors when driving. Caulfield focuses on two steps: what is the site and is this new report correct/true. In a world where abundance is only a click away, maybe we are at a point where it is time to reassess what that actually means.
Now imagine a world where checking your mirrors before switching lanes was rare, three standard-deviations-out behavior. What would the roads look like?
Toolographies — the new essential ingredient of student research?: Matt Esterman proposes extending the idea of a bibliography to include the tools used. This is an interesting idea in the evolving place of research and libraries.
Perhaps we need to have students include a toolography, a list — perhaps annotated — of the tools they used to source, to organise and to present their information.
Responding to Challenging Behaviours with Elizabeth Saunders: Cameron Malcher speaks with Elizabeth Saunders about her work on challenging behaviour in the classroom. This comes back to the right to learn and be safe. What this looks like differs based on classroom and context. Saunders points out that this often comes back to differentiation and other proctive measures, rather than having students removed and isolated. It is interesting to listen to this interview alongside those from Katherine Birbalsingh and Paul Dix.
Elizabeth Saunders discusses the issue of students with challenging behaviours and how to respond to and engage with such students in order to overcome obstacles and maintain focus on learning in the classroom.
“Seeing New Worlds” danah boyd on Team Human: In a conversation between danah boyd and Doug Rushkoff, she explains that at the heart of our current problems with media, facts and trust is capitalism. By design, capitalism gives you what you want. The problem though is that capitalism and democracy are no longer constrained within nation states as they may have been in the past. There is neither the opportunity for ‘nationalistic paternalism’ to moderate wants nor a means of managing different groups. Media in a multi-national environment has become confusing. We are now in a world of networks and social graphs. All media companies are in the business for amplification, the problem has therefore become what is amplified, which as so many have pointed out is often at the extremes. danah boyd says that we need an intervention, but to achieve that we firstly need t appreciate all the micro-decisions that got us to here. How do we deal with these well intended decisions when they have negative implications? One of the challenges is filling the data voids, rather than blocking various search terms we need to develop the content that maybe missing. For those who may not have kept up with boyd’s work since It’s Complicated, this is a really good introduction.
If we don’t support young people in building out a strategically rich graph, they will reinforce the worst segments of our society.
Leave No Dark Corner: Matthew Carney provides an insight into the digital dictatorship that China is exerting over its citizens through the use of “social credit”. This is a part of the wider global push of surveillance to use facial recognition in schools, universities and shopping centres. Yu Hua provides a different perspective on China’s rise, looking at the changes in generations. Foreign Correspondence also reported on the topic.
Social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions. Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too. Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect social credit.
Are All Voices Equal?: Dean Shareski reflects on the place of voice in education. Whether it be students in the classroom or educators online, he argues that there are times when some voices are more important than others. This continues the argument that Thomas Guskey recently made about merely searching the web. I wonder where this leaves participatory culture, comments and blogging? Is it a reminder that such acts are first and fore-mostly selfish? Nick Jackson argues that it all depends on context.
I’m grateful for the advent of the web and social media by providing me with a voice. I’ve been able to publish many ideas over that last 12 years that previously would have only lived in my head. Through that publishing, I’ve been able to think through some things and had the benefit of others to add their thoughts as well. However, as much as this has democratized knowledge, it has also diluted the importance of expertise. The barriers of the previous publishing world lacked the ability to include all voices but it did help identify expertise. As adults and educators, I think we have to work harder to identify the smart people and allow their ideas to be heard over the din of social media. Expertise is not found in followers but on the quality and evidence of ideas that have proven the test of time.
Big Tech’s problem is Big, not Tech: Cory Doctorow provides a snapshot of the world of Big Tech we are in. He asks the question, why would we ask people to code if as it is becoming so it is illegal to do so? Doctorow puts forward the plea that human dignity and flourishing are bound up in the ability to act rather than be acted upon. If technology monopolies lock us away, this is clearly restricted. For more on Big Tech, read how Facebook is tackling moderation or how Google is controlling Android.
In this keynote address, author and advocate, Cory Doctorow, argues that Big Tech is a problem, but the problem isn’t “Tech,” it’s “BIG.” Giants get to bend policy to suit their ends, they get to strangle potential competitors in their infancy, they are the only game in town, so they can put the squeeze on users and suppliers alike.
The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger: Quinn Norton discusses the complexities of online identity and the associated context collapse. She shares her experience of being hired and fired by the New York Times after a Twitter account was created that retweeted the past out of context. This is a fascinating insight into the world we are now in when, right or wrong, the past never sleeps.
Don’t internet angry. If you’re angry, internet later.
Your DNA Is Not Your Culture: Sarah Zhang discusses Spotify’s move to team up with AncestryDNA to provide richer results. To me, the strength of Spotify is big data, whether it be in choice or collections. Through the use of algorithms this data can uncover some interesting and sometimes novel patterns, but the move to inject ancestory into the mix surely is stretching it too far?
It’s a nice message. But it elides history. Mixed ancestry does not necessarily mean a harmonious coexistence, past or future. African Americans have, on average, 24 percent European ancestry. To take a genetic-ancestry test is to confront a legacy of rape and slavery—perhaps to even recognize one’s own existence as the direct result of it. There is a way to use genetics and genealogy to uncover injustices and properly account for them. The 23andMe-sponsored podcast Spit, for instance, has featured some nuanced conversations about race. But it’s not through feel-good ads that paper over the past.
Storytelling and Reflection
Virginia Trioli on being a difficult woman in a difficult world: In a speech at the Women In Media Conference, Virginia Trioli reflects on the challenges of being a women in the media. She shares a number of anecdotes that remind us that even with the #metoo movement, that we still have some way to go in regards to gender equality. Some of the advice Trioli recommends are to learn from your mistakes, own who you are and regularly take stock of where you are at. These lessons are useful for anybody (man or woman.) This post and Emma Watkin’s story are also reminders that so often there is more at play that goes unrecognised.
Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.
Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast: Jeremy Cherfas explores how an ordinary grass became the main source of sustenance for most of the people alive on Earth. Through this month long series, Cherfas assembles a narrative combining history, biology, definition, technology, sociology, politics, religion and innovation. Some of the questions I was left wondering were the place of Indigenous Australians in this story. Maybe these ideas and more will be unpacked in a longer book version of the series?
A history of wheat and bread in very short episodes
5 thoughts on self-help: Austin Kleon shares a handful of thoughts about the self-help genre. This includes being skeptical of the genre, the association with individualism, often such books are accidents and advice is autobiographical. This reminds me in part of the idea of bibliotherapy.
The joy and luck, for me, of writing my books, is that I’ve stumbled my way into a form (specifically: the illustrated gift book) that is not only commercial and popular, but also allows me to be as weird and as visual as I want to be. (I really do think of the books as fancy zines.) If they are shelved in self-help, so be it!
Hope Stands Tall: Kate O’Halloran breaks down the incident which involved Moana Hope walking off the stage during a panel discussing women’s football. The problem, as O’Halloran explains, relates to control and power of bodies. For me, I have concern about the expectations placed on AFLW. Like many forms of change and innovation, people often want their cake and to eat it too. It would seem that there is an expectation of parity on the field when I doubt there is parity off the field. O’Halloran wonders if the answer is breaking free from the AFL’s shackles?
It should go without saying that men who participate in Australian rules football (or rugby league, or any other sport for that matter) also put their own bodies at such risk. Those choices, however, are not questioned in the same way women’s are, because men are seen as having autonomy over their bodies and their decisions, while women’s bodies – in the minds of dinosaurs like Malthouse at least – are still subject to men’s control.
Reclaiming Educational Reform: Benjamin Doxtdator continues his critique of Ted Dintersmith. Picking up where he finished last time, he explains that Dintersmith and Tony Wagner are not the alternative to the personalized education movement that we may be hoping for. I always feel conflicted by such conversations wondering if I am trying to have my cake and eat it too?
You might think I’m overly critical of Ted Dintersmith, who probably really cares about education and the future of young people. When you watch Bill Gates tour High Tech High which he invested in years before it featured in Dintersmith and Wagner’s film, you get the sense that he probably really cares about young people, too. But we must not base policy on personality. Hoping that Dintersmith may be the anti-Gates we’ve been waiting for confines us such a superficial analysis of personality. When billionaires like Dintersmith get behind efforts led by private schools to reshape admissions to colleges, we need to put these education reform agendas through a rigorous, historical analysis. Maybe you will enjoy Dintersmith’s book for the tour he takes you on of schools across the U.S., but you’ll need to look elsewhere to understand what’s really at stake in the movement to ‘disrupt’ ‘obsolete’ schools.
Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don’t Blame Cars): Jonathan English reflects on the demise of public transport in America. Although it can be easy to blame cars, the real issue is the lack of investment. Build it and they will come. It would be interesting to take a similar look at transport in Australia.
Service drives demand. When riders started to switch to the car in the early postwar years, American transit systems almost universally cut service to restore their financial viability. But this drove more people away, producing a vicious cycle until just about everybody who could drive, drove. In the fastest-growing areas, little or no transit was provided at all, because it was deemed to be not economically viable. Therefore, new suburbs had to be entirely auto-oriented. As poverty suburbanizes, and as more jobs are located in suburban areas, the inaccessibility of transit on a regional scale is becoming a crisis.
FOCUS ON the Modern Learning Canvas
The Modern Learning Canvas has been developed to support schools and teachers to design and implement innovative, evidence based learning and teaching. Influenced by the Business Model Canvas, it is designed to paint a picture of context. Here then are a collection of resources and examples associated with the Modern Learning Canvas and Richard Olsen’s Inquiry Oriented Innovation process:
- The Modern Learning Canvas: Creating a Canvas: In this hangout, Richard Olsen walks through the creation of a Modern Learning Canvas with a team. This includes investigating what if schools were a hospital, as well as iPads in Years P-2.
- The Modern Learning Canvas (Ed Tech Crew Episode 246): Tony Richards and Darrel Branson talk to Richard Olsen about where the Modern Learning Canvas came from, what it’s about and how to use it to drive professional learning and dialogue about what we do in classrooms.
- IOI Weekend Website: A collection of posts from Richard Olsen unpacking the Modern Learning Canvas and the whole IOI Process.
- Canvasing Towards Pedagogical Intelligence: Steve Brophy discusses his use of the Modern Learning Canvas as a way to work with staff to develop pedagogical capacity and intelligence through a common language.
- Innovation, Context and Language – A Reflection on #IOIWeekend: Notes from a session unpacking the IOI Process the structure to map context and plan a path for change and innovation.
- Seven Approaches to Learning Mathematics: Richard Olsen uses uses the Modern Learning Canvas to visualise and understand the teaching of mathematics.
- How does your school innovate?: Steve Brophy reflects on using the Modern Learning Canvas and lean methodologies to innovate and adapt in schools.
- What is pedagogical innovation?: Steve Brophy explains how the Modern Learning Canvas provides a means of highlighting learning and areas of need, which can then be used to start pinpointing metrics needed to measure change.
- Implementing Hapara: A post I wrote introducing Hapara, including a canvas to explain its role in the classroom.
- Defining a Community of Practice: A post exploring the idea of a community of practice, including the creating of a canvas to map out some of the nuances
- A Reading Canvas: Pernille Ripp addressed which reading program to choose. Rather than listing a range of programs, she provided a list of what should be included. I used this to map out a canvas.
READ WRITE RESPOND #033
So that is September for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
Cover image via JustLego101.