Archive | November, 2010

Preventing the Punkin Chunkin from Going Potemkin Village

So maybe it is the Marine in me, but my mind went straight to a Punkin War.  Teams set up positions around  a Pumpkin Patch, supported by Punkin Artillery, with each team trying to drag as many pumpkins as possible back to their base, all the while avoiding getting jacked up by incoming jack-o-lanterns.  I know, not likely we could get an event premised on hitting students with twenty-pound gords coming in from a mile, but wow would there be some authentic assessment going on.…

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Lies, Liars and Living in Lies

In a fairly recent New Yorker article Arne Duncan told the following story:

Once, when Duncan was in high school, a basketball star he knew from Sue’s came to him for help in studying for the A.C.T. test.  “He was being recruited by some big places,” Duncan said.  “He was thinking Marquette, something like that.  And we say down, and he couldn’t read.  He was a B student at Martin Luther King.  This was the year they won the state championship.  He was a good kid.  He stayed clear of gangs, drugs; his teachers liked him.  He did everything right, everything that was asked of him, and he was functionally illiterate.  It wasn’t his fault.  He’d been lied to all his life.  We had a heart-to-heart talk, and I had to tell him.  And he didn’t make it.  He went to junior college, but he didn’t make it.”

Lied to his entire life.  Hmm.  By who?  While Duncan does not explicitly tell us

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Pumpkin Chunkin and the Nature of Teacher Work

I read Matt’s post yesterday and I appreciated the way he chose to push folks to look at learning and teaching differently. I thought about it as I was running/waddling through West Philly this afternoon. I was thinking of one particular response to these sorts of proposals: it’s too much work to teach this way.…

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And for an encore…

A lot of the folks who learn about the Workshop come to it by way of the EVX project. This makes sense; it’s inspirational and makes an amazing story. The question that these people always ask Simon and the team is: what are you going to do next?

The most obvious answer, and the one we typically offer, is that we want to start a school.…

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No President Left Behind

Dear President Obama,

If the midterms elections are any indicator you have your work cut out for you in terms of getting another term. If you are accepting advice from people not from Chicago I have an idea for how to get reelected: The Presidential Standardized Test. Here’s how it works.…

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Learning By Doing

Last week I had the privilege of presenting at TEDxPhilly (see the links in previous blogs). I created an after school program at West Philadelphia High School that has received national attention. I’ve been invited to a few of these events because people want to know how an inner-city after-school program can build bad-ass hybrid cars that beat teams like MIT and big money start-up companies.…

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More Dewey

As regards the spirit of the school, the chief object is to secure a free and informal community life in which each child will feel that he has a share and his own work to do. This is made the chief motive towards what are ordinarily termed order and discipline.

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TED and school

Last Friday, Simon and I were debriefing his talk at TEDx Philly. These types of events are becoming increasingly common. The basic idea is to get a bunch of smart, dynamic, creative people in one place at the same time, have them share their work, and see what happens. The format varies a bit (TED is more presentation based, whereas events like the Aspen Ideas Festival offer more unstructured time for discussion), but what they have in common is the belief that this kind of cross-pollination of people and ideas is generative.…

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References to Simon’s talk!

Technically Philly: here.

The Notebook:

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Technology and Project Based Learning

I really liked Zadie Smith’s essay on Facebook and its perils. Two lines stuck out for me:

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