Monday, November 22, 2010

Wanted: Great Ideas


Over the last few months I have posted research on boys and reading. Shared some ideas for engaging all students, but especially boys in reading. These ideas included podcasts and five big ideas of reading, leveraging technology as a means to active literacy with before, during and after reading strategies, and most recently digital book reports.

Pennsylvania is fortunate to have PAIUnet, a private network that literally nearly all 500 school districts and IUs have access. It’s a safe network where students and teachers can collaborate, publish, share and interact.

We currently have access to several services and products through Keystone Commons, Safari Montage, and VoiceThread. Note some of these services have a subscription fee, while others are at no charge.

In thinking about promoting reading in boys, what other kinds of services and supports could we leverage in this private network for PA students and teachers?

Some ideas already shared have been a digital library – download books onto a computer, Kindle or Nook.

Shared project ideas i.e. a digital book report contest for all 5th grade teachers and students.

We have this powerful network – how might we leverage it to promote reading????? Please click on the Comments link below this post and share your ideas.

Book Reports Go Digital

Kudos to Recorded Books for launching an innovative contest encouraging students to read. Their Digital Book Report Contest is promoting their new literature curriculum, Book Jams.

According to the the Book Jam website a digital book report would look like this…

“Have your students pick their favorite book or a book from your lesson plan and create a song, performance, or debate. Get creative and win! Use music, props, and costumes! But make sure that it covers the core standards. We’d love to see rap songs about grammar, interactive presentations highlighting setting and symbolism, plays about conflict starring Hester Prynne to Harry Potter, and whatever else you and your students dream up!”

The contest is innovative and engaging. The entries are diverse and captivating. Students cleverly used pictures, audio, music, original music, costumes, props and much more….

Finalist are now posted. Be amazed! Visit the Contest site, create an account and give these kids the feedback they need. Public voting available for only a few more days.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Root Cause Stories

During a recent school improvement training we asked, “Why is the wild owl population in India decreasing?”

After suspending disbelief that this question had anything to do with school improvement, the audience called out possibilities such as:

  • Pollution
  • Migration patterns
  • Loss of habitat

They seem plausible, but to pursue them would be folly as none of those would address the cause for the dwindling owl population.

Unfortunately too often school improvement teams, in their sense of urgency to “fix” the problem ,  forget to study the problem and possible solutions. They forget that they likely need more data to confirm or deny any of their hypotheses. Time consuming work for sure, but better than the alternative… working on solutions that will have little to no effect on the issue.

Victoria Burnhart in her article Multiple Measures indicates that Demographic and Achievement data are insufficient to identify root cause e.g. Number of owls this year compared to last year. Instead additional data is needed to understand the context of the problem.

So getting back to the original question, why is the owl population dwindling in India? It’s a bit of a shocker, but the answer is…. Harry Potter. Yep, apparently the book is so popular that owls are in great demand to give as gifts to young children. Click here for the full story.