Tuesday, 30 October 2007

When Wikipedia Is the Assignment

via OLDaily

The use of wikipedia as an assignment should (and *will* as more teachers understand the value of doing so) definitely receive great support and wide appreciation. The assignment suggested by the article has the following advantages:
1. a real introduction to the community of practice the students are aspired to.
2. a solid contribution to the broader community by the work done by the students.
3. a good motivator for students - the work is REAL and is appreciated by many.

I believe there is ground of improvement too.

Not all academic work and progress are made in a big step. In fact, small steps are the norm. As students begin participation of their chosen community of practice, we should encourage them to take part and contribute in smaller steps. Instead of asking students to submit a whole article (and potentially creating the disappointment of being merged or deleted by the wikipedia community), an equally valuable contribution would be to make positive improvements to existing articles.

If the weighting of the assignment is 40%, students can be asked to make 40 improvements to a broad range of relevant articles (of their own choosing preferably). If the improvement survives after a given time interval (depending on the revision cycle of the article), the point is awarded. Those who made contributions which do not survive the wikipedia review process, they may be given an opportunity by making another improvement to another article etc (time permitting, of course under the current "fixed time" slotted school system).

This change will help to cover a wider range of topics too.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Sketch gets student, 7, school suspension

I am seriously troubled by this story.

7 year old boy suspended from the Dennis Township schools for a stick figure drawing he created depicting one figure shooting another figure with a gun or water pistol.

1. School is a place for learning, ie making mistakes and learn from the mistake with little consequence *outside* the learning environment, ie the school. Suspension is hardly an educational device. You cannot educate people by denying the opportunity to educate them.
2. The mother re-confirmed the kid that he was NOT in trouble. But at the same time, the power of suspension as an educational device (which is wrong, but it seems that some people believe that it has) will be gone by equating suspension to "NOT in trouble"!
3. As far as I know, Americans glorify weapons culturally (Top Gun is a great example). How can we expect a 7-year old not to be fascinated by gun!
4. "Zero-tolerance policy for guns" applied to drawing (a form of expression). On the same token, we should also apply to the more common form of expression - language. The word "GUN" should be banned in school as well. Then the policy should read "Zero-tolerance policy for xxx" to be politically correct! Hey, isn't USA as the first amendment about "freedom of speech"

Monday, 15 October 2007

Airline food

For those who fly to conferences everyday and worry about what is put into your body, you may like to check out this web site before you book your next flight.

Students say...

200 students collaborated on ONE online document to bring us this 5-minute message (via Couros Blog)

Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains

Some key points:

"Use It or Lose It"

the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients

Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you look forward to every hansgrohe-downpour-air-royale-14in-shower.jpgnew day in a constructive way.

The point of having a brain is precisely to learn and to adapt to challenging new environments.

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Physics Behind Four Amazing Demonstrations

In my first lesson to a class I have not taught before, I liked to hang a large metal ball in the middle of the teacher's area at about head high. As I walked into the class after the students have settled in, I deliberately walked pass the hanging ball, pull it close to my face to the other end of the room. I would release the ball and start to greet the students.

I can assure you that the students will not be looking at you. Instead they will be watching the ball as it swang to the other side of the room and came back to your face looking like to hit you soon.

As long as you keep steady, the ball will never hit you. But the dramatic effect will sure to hold your students attention to you for the rest of the year.

Here are 4 other dramatic demonstrations from David G. Willey.

Let's make Physics interesting, to the students!