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August 2013
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October 2013

September 2013

1 to 1 Computers a Lie

Was just reading an article about how wonderful a local school districts 1 to 1 computer program was in a tech journal. Then talked to a parent who has children in the school mentioned in the article.

Not only does his children not have the district issued laptop, but when the parents ask about them, they don't get a response. How many other programs are based on similar lies?



Why I don’t like Khan Academy (or Flipping the classroom)

One thing we have to do as teachers, is that we have to engage our learners. I don't think that sending them off to watch a video does that.

Here's why.

I've had to take a bunch of online courses with videos. I zone out on them unless they are really short and really dynamic. Even videos that show me how to do something I want to do. I usually end up fast forwarding to the part I don't get and skipping the rest.

If I, an advanced learner who is dedicated to learning, zones out, why does our average un-invested learner do? Or worse yet, our limited English speaker (and listener do?) I bet they don't even turn them on.

Even if you have them do it in the classroom, how does that substitute for a teacher who cares about them in their face?

The answer is to reduce class sizes and get more teachers in the classroom who care. Oh yeah, that's a problem too.

Why I don’t like Chromebooks – Why I didn’t watch #Teach

I teach computer science and I strongly believe if you are going to put a device in the hands of a child, it should be a device that they should be able to write real programs with. I spent a few moments watching Teach, and I rejected the premise immediately when I saw them giving out Chromebooks (and putting kids on Khan Academy, but that's for another post).

I have blogged before about my Chromebook experience – and they just don't give enough bang for the buck. A netbook gives a full computer user experience and allows children to program, as do other devices at the same price point.

If you are only going to give children the ability to do the internet and edit some files, do something smaller, like the Amazon Fire. Don't fool anyone any thinking that you are giving them a computer.

By the way, I've been teaching programming to failing math students for years and they have gone on to succeed on the state tests. Math is about reading and following directions and nothing teaches that better than programming. Math is also about problem solving and again nothing teaches that better than programming. In fact, teach programming – Alice and Scratch solves a whole lot of the problems that failing math students have.

Tough School Year, but Easier than Last Year

At least physically.

This year I was able to put my classroom back together myself. I couldn't the past few years. That means dragging the tables together and hooking the computers back up. This year, a roving crew decided to unplug everything. It isn't neat right now, but everything works. I've got some repairs to make to boards, but waiting until some materials come in.

Last night I was able to run both dogs in class. I skipped the last exercise, but I knew that after a month's break, none of us was ready for us, and it let me pack up at a more leisurely pace.

I've had lots of years when I couldn't run ONE dog the full class, much less both of them.

Hopefully the biggest issue I'm having will get resolved today – it's more of a mental issue than anything – how to teach two groups of students who need close supervision at once. My answer is to not do it.