2/27/11

How much house can I get around the country for $275K

Have you ever just played around on a realtor site like Realtor.com and seen how much house you can get for a specific price......? I will do that for you today.....let's cap off the house at $275,000....ready? All house have at least 2,000 square foot of livable space....

In Phoenix Arizona for 275K you can get this beautiful 4 bedroom, 2 bath semi-custom home in the Shadow Mountain Preserve with spacious rooms and many upgrades. Clean and bright with 4 bedrooms (one being used as an office) and kitchen open to the family room with surround sound and built in entertainment center. Lots of beautiful tile floors, too. Kitchen has huge pantry and generous center island. Big master bath includes separate shower and jetted tub and large walk-in closet. Outside is a Pebble-tec pool with waterfall, 2-sided behive fireplace."

In Columbia, South Carolina you can get this 4 bedroom, 3 bath....
Near Salt Lake City, Utah you can get this 5 bedroom, 5 bath with 3 car garage...

In Frankfort, Kentuky you can get this 4 bedroom 2 bath for $249K

Send me your finds......got to realtor.com and see what you come up with...

2/24/11

I AM an expert rich millionaire with 3 degrees with A+ kids

One can't help to notice the growing external ways in which we define ourselves as a modern society and as a parent of two growing kids in this modern world, it's truly worrisome trend.
To begin, aside from our names, ages and interests, we primarily define ourselves externally these days. You don't believe me? When you first meet someone the first thing people often ask you about yourself is about your job, or where you live; this is especially true when men meet each other for the first time but not exclusively. You see, in a modern society, people need this type of information in order to subconsciously place you in the socioeconomic pecking order they have in their minds. And we go along with it for it's all we have learned to care about after all in our superficial dealings with one another. Now it's through our jobs, our homes, our education, our clothes, our phones, our abilities, and our friends, that we know where we stand with each other. We never even stop to wonder where or what we would be without all these perceived labels.

On that same note, I just read about DC Council chairman Brown costing DC taxpayers nearly 4-thousand dollars a month on 2 fully loaded SUVs paid for by the hard working folk of DC. The guy just HAD to have "black on black" and when he did not get it, he ordered another one; adding two suvs to the DC payroll. Oftentimes, when I hear about absurd things politicians do I wonder out loud who the heck elected these clowns to begin with. But we as regular folk are somewhat at fault. We are so enthralled with the rich and famous that if they jumped off a building claiming it could cure cancer we'd surely justify some way to follow them down. You don't believe me? Then let's look at Bill Gates. Mr. gates has no experience in education whatsoever. He quit school himself, his kids probably don't even go to public schools, yet, he's allowed to restructure public education for the whole country?.....why? say it with me, .....because he's filthy rich.

Not only are we obsessed with the rich, but our kids are too. Check out the silly TV shows they have feeding our kids' brains day in and day out. They are filled with disgustingly bratty teens who have egos the size of Manhattan. Kids want to be just like the rich brat they see on TV. I don't think we have enough room for the egos being bred by this rich-obsessed generation.

You might be one of those parents who grew up with very little and see no harm in gadgeting your teen until he no longer needs to move to communicate with the world, but the real problem in doing that lies in how all these things are perceived as a replacement for ones' definition of oneself. A few years back my brother, who I love very much, had to be tough on my niece (his daughter) and the consequence was to take her phone away for one day. If you were the neighbor on the night the consequence was dispensed, you'd think someone got stabbed repeatedly. But no, a phone was being repossessed by a parent and to my niece this was simply as close to death as you could get. So the next logical question is, what are we without our labels, without out things? Are we less? are we nothing? Can our kids define themselves without their things?

There is so little time and space for developing human value and qualities within our kids that we have since confused the 'gadgeting load-up' as an acceptable way of parenting. We all grew up hearing about how materialistic things are not important, yadi, yadi, yadi. The saying is so ridiculously cliche our brains start to immediately shut down before the phrase is even done. But the truth of the matter is that we ourselves have begun to blur the lines and believe in our hearts that these external qualities really do define our children. I often reveal to friends with kids that I will forever remind my own children that their grades are not who they are and that these numbers will never add up to be their 'worth'. That C- minus does not define you just as much as that A++ does not define you. We grew up in a generation where our grades defined who we were, and most importantly who we would end up being. That was simply not true then and not true today. Academic success alone does not translate to happiness. Developing ourselves as curious, innovative human beings would make for a much more content grown up.

So the next time you meet a new person. Instead of asking them what they do for a living, ask them what they like to do for fun? Or what life-changing book they have read lately...Dare to walk around life without strapping on your labels every morning....just be part of the world without the extra weight of labels and experience what is truly happening instead. Today, you will not be a mom, nor artist, or an expert, or a boss, or the smartest person in the group, or the funniest.... today, you will just be part of the experience itself, fully alive.






2/23/11

Not Waiting for Roses and Chocolates

At 37 I have come to the realization that men and women are miles apart in so many ways that to try to fix or bridge them is a course in pure futility. As women, I can see the need to immediately mend a disconnect, when we see a disconnect in our relationship. Yet, there are some differences left alone. In fact, there are some differences that do not need a woman's touch at all.

On the drive back to DC from New York my husband decided he wanted to drive for a change. Being a beyond crazy rendition of a 'back seat driver', I knew this meant big trouble, BIG trouble. My poor hubby, he tried being patient with my repeated, sporadic and overly cautious warnings but it just got to be too much for him to bear. By around the end of New Jersey he was surely wondering why he ever married this crazy overprotective woman who had no trust in his fairly sober and responsible driving skills. Once home, the Miriam from the past would have attempted to fix the relationship chasm that had occurred on the ride immediately, which would have been a woman's way of fixing things. But after 11 years of marriage I knew that with time the anger and pure frustration on both sides would just dissipate and soon we'd be back to normal.

To further illustrate the inevitable and uncompromising differences between men and women I will bring up the issue of my friend and her husband ( I am using Alicia and Mark as made-up names). Alicia calls me to complain that her hubby Mark does not support her around the house while she works full time and he's home temporarily not working. She is beside herself angry at him primarily because he does not seem to automatically know what needs to get done around the house. Women in general have this very troublesome romantic notion that somehow the gifts or efforts of a man are worth more if they come out naturally without a woman's prompting. This notion can cause a whole lot of misery in a relationship, it may even lead to divorce. Men are fairly direct beings and the added expectation of having them be 'psychics' can cause quite a bit of stress on both sides.

My husband and I have this same argument every year around my birthday around the issue of unspoken expectations. He has no idea why I can't just tell him what I want for my birthday and vehemently questions why a gift would suddenly carry such weight and importance in our relationship. I have learned that men are much more direct and simple beings than women and if given a how-to manual to women they'd be much happier, for in the end they do want to make us happy, they just don't want all the guess work. But as it is right now, they simply do not get us. I don't think letting go of our unspoken unrealistic romantic expectations means compromising what we need in any way, but realistically, some men are not very good at figuring out what we want. And don't come beating down my door if I say that that it should be okay that they cannot guess what we want. Think of all the times some of you had to help 'dad' buy gifts for 'mom'. Does that mean dad loves mom an less? No. As a society as a whole, I think we still expect all men to bend towards this female way of doing things, but realistically, I don't think it's in the nature of most men to operate this way for long; maybe during the dating period at best.

Romantic movies, TV and novels have done women, men and relationships in general a huge disservice by setting up such ridiculously absurd realities of what a relationship SHOULD look like. There are perfectly happy marriages that do not look at all like what we see in movies and TV and having the full spectrum of how relationships could be should be available to the public. We need to create a new paradigm for relationships that encompass a more balanced set of responsibilities for both sexes that better match their natural responses and habits.

2/21/11

Nora's creations

This is an 8x10 canvas with marker and wax.
This is Nora's version on a tree woman......(8x10), waiting to get painted.

Textured mixed media on canvas.....and layers of acrylic. This painting has since changed twice more.....it now has wax on it....and looks amazing.....will post those soon....

Luke's art.......

Since I cannot possibly do any art lately unless I have both kids set up with their own paints and canvases......I am posting some of the work they are doing alongside me.....these are Luke's (Nora's post will follow)
This is 16x20 and it's much more bumpy and textures than it looks.
side views of the canvas.......to show the "mountains".
Luke loves rocks, pebbles and mountains. He uses the same technique I use to make my trees, except he makes these huge 'rocks' with them instead.
A very structured piece he did in Art Club Fridays.

I think Luke's style is very gaudy....and intense......he always has to go overboard....here he covers the wood with beads.

2/10/11

How experts can be like quitters (sometimes)


I went to a very fun birthday party last week at a Karate studio and there were signs everywhere that read "never quit." As an art teacher I have come to many crossroads where kids who think they can't do the work, and simply quit. I always give them a small pep talk consisting of how experts are not born, they try and fail, try and fail many times before they become an expert, so to stop now means they have chosen to stop growing. But the opposite can be just as detrimental. Someone who thinks they know everything, someone like an expert, has also quit; quit learning, quit being open, quit growing inside.

I have run across several 'experts' just this week who seem so convinced in their positions that no matter what the circumstances they will not open their mind to other possibilities or ideas. Too often these people who think themselves 'experts' at something mistakenly think they have done all the knowledge absorption there is to soak up in their field and think they can can now just sit back and bask in their enormous breadth of knowledge. My question here would be, how is this predicament different from a quitter? In essence aren't they both in the same type of space, no longer growing, no longer opened to life and all its possibilities, totally stuck?

The current version of a successful expert in any given field is someone who has reached the apex of knowledge. We don't dare question these people for fear of being shot back to our rightful place or of having our own ignorance harshly revealed to all. Too often when we meet an expert our experience of them is of a closed individual, too often unable to authentically work with others who they think may not be equal in category; in essence they have stopped growing and have become closed to change, closed to being affected, sadly stuck. Most of us, I'm sure, have experienced trying to argue with a doctor's decision, a contentious conversation at best.

I propose a different, 21st century definition for an expert. The definition of an expert should be someone who has honed down a system of soaking up knowledge in their field from every incident, every conversation, every experience that all of life then becomes a rich ground for learning and making more infinite connections. In this definition of an expert, the knowledge base can be multiplied over the years without a finite end. We all have met these amazing forms of experts too. I aim to find these experts in the field of education and education policy and learn all I can from them. People that make me want to grow, be more open and live and rise to higher frequencies.

So to quitters and experts alike I say, 'never quit, don't give up' (on growing from within).

2/9/11

Linda Darling-Hammond.....my new education policy guru

On The Future of Education I heard an amazing interview with Linda Darling-Hammond. If ever there was a person I would most aspire to be like in the education world it's her! She is the author of the book, The Flat World and Education. How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future and here again is a book I ordered on Amazon. I think I need to stop listening to these interviews I would save a lot of money.
The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future (Multicultural Education)

She also wrote another book about 20 years ago called The Right to Learn.
Here are my notes from the interview and my reactions. Please be advised that some quotes come directly from the author.

* Linda states that today schools are run from the outside 'by remote control'. She states that while this is 'well intentioned, quite a lot of it (policy) gets in the way' more than help.

* She labels today's school system as a 'test and punish paradigm' and asks how do we create a setting when students can be supported, where teachers and parents can collaborate on students' behalf.

* Linda believe that schools exists within an extreme inequality in opportunity. The Dilemma, she explains is that 'politics does not do a good job with complex issues'. We continues that we look for a federal level policy for answers yet, that can't be done at that large level. There is a tremendous need to individualize what is done at the level of the school to make sure it's appropriate for that population and that cannot be addressed from above. Policy, she further explains, is 'standardized and unable to handle differentiation and nuance'. For example, policy make it difficult for professionals to do their job for with all types of restrictions they do not feel trusted.

Better way to meet students....than try to figure out the one right way....

* In her Book, Right to Learn Linda describes why progressive educational philosophy demand infinitely skilled teachers which is not sustainable in the long run. She writes in the book that the systems are not organized to fuel reforms over the long haul for there is a tremendous widening inequality to schools. She offers an example of how is a school comes up with a solution, then others try to replicate it, yet, with no support, the ideas 'crash and burn'

** Linda addresses what she called 'popcorn reform' movements. In which systems changes course very often. She compares this approach to education policy to other countries who got it right and demonstrates how other countries adopt one system and improve upon it for 26-30 years giving the whole system more stability and trust on the side of teachers. She attributes this behavior as part of the 'disposable culture that characterizes US, and our failure to invest systematically' in one idea.

** She is very strong on the idea that in order for reform to work we need to investment in our teachers. She brings as an example the Teach For America program and claims that there are 'ideas about teaching that are just not fair to teachers'. She compares America to Singapore and in Singapore a teacher makes 3 to 4 times more than a beginning doctor in government service. In Singapore a teacher is very well trained for the work she will do. We (in America) have this idea as short term work in teaching, that a few weeks of training and a scripted curriculum will do. Instead of recruiting 2-3 year commitment teachers we should instead be focused on getting very bright people who want to make teaching a career.

** One of the most shocking revelation Linda shared and one that got me thinking were her views on teaching as a profession. She claims teaching is not a profession. She backs up her argument by listing 3 qualities of a Professionals.
1. A moral commitment to do what is best for client, not cheapest or the most expedient.
She says, 'we rely on engineers to know how to build a safe bridge even if they're working for county gov. who might like to cut corners.' Linda states that in some cases teachers are asked to do things that are actually malpractice. For example, a school board, or policy might decide on a new requirement and teachers would have to follow it and held to technical requirements that are not professionally well grounded.
2. Professionals have a knowledge based. shared by profession; a common denominator shared by all. Teachers do not have that. Teachers can come into teaching with no experience at all.
3. Last, professional take responsibility for the body of research and knowledge in their profession. Teachers are not able to take control of standards of practice in their field.

For these three reasons, Linda claims teaching is not a profession.

** Linda gives several suggestions for getting in track. (1) She suggests offering free high quality preparation for everyone who wants to teach in exchange for 4-5 years of service in a high need area/location. (2) She suggests that all curriculum be aimed at higher order
assessment that looks to improve not punish. She brings up the state of NJ as having achieved gains by equalized funding, offering coaching, etc.
Linda worries that multiple choice has become the curriculum and states that other countries lave less assessments, higher quality ways of assessing what students know, and they do not attach low quality test measures to their assessments. She warns not to make multiple choice standardized tests 'the tail that wags the dog.'

** Linda believes in putting teachers in position to work together to create solutions. She still believes that there needs to be area that are regulated from above, yet, it's important that decisions be made close to families communities for the purpose of individualizing to the local level. Teachers and parents know best what the needs are of their children. The system has to be engaged by those who are affected.

2/8/11

Kieran Egan on the nature of Knowledge



Kieran Egan was born in Clonmel, Ireland in 1942. He was brought up and educated in England. He read History (Hons.) at the University of London, graduating with a B.A. in 1966. He worked for a year as a Research fellow at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Kingston-upon-Thames and then moved to the USA to begin a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education at Stanford University. He worked concurrently as a consultant to the I.B.M. Corp. on adaptation of a programming method, called Structural Communication, to new computing systems. He completed his Ph.D. at Cornell University in 1972. His first job was at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where he has remained ever since. He is the author of over 20 books, and co-author, editor, or co-editor of a few more. In 1991 he received the Grawemeyer Award in Education. In 1993 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada, in 2000 he was elected as Foreign Associate member to U.S. National Academy of Education, he received a Canada Research Chair in 2001, won the Whitworth Award in 2007. His main area of interest is education. His work focuses on a new educational theory, which he has developed during the past two decades, and its implications for a changed curriculum, teaching practices, and the institution of the school. His work deals both with innovative educational theory and detailed practical methods whereby implications of his theory can be applied at the classroom level. Various of his books have been translated into about 10 European and Asian languages. His recent books include Teaching as Story Telling and Imagination in Teaching and Learning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), The Educated Mind: How cognitive tools shape our understanding (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), Getting it Wrong from the Beginning: Our progressivist inheritance from Herbert Spencer, John Dewey, and Jean Piaget (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), An imaginative approach to teaching (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,2005), and Teaching literacy: Engaging the imagination of new readers and writers(Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006), and most recently The Future of Education: Reimagining our schools from the ground up (New Haven: Yale University Press).

I am having a blast listening to all these authors on education on WWW.FutureonEducation.com. Egan has many controversial ideas about education. One of the quotes discussed in his interview is,
"Education is a contentious and unsatisfactory activity." That quote alone got me interested.

These notes below are from the interview, please note some ideas are quoted verbatim.

**Egan claims education is made up of three ideas that ultimately do not fit or work well together, the three ideas are:
1. School's purpose id to socialize children to the world we live in
2. Then there is the academic purpose/idea
3. And last there is the developmental aspect of education.

** Egan believes that the problem with these ideas is that they are mutually incompatible and that this incompatibility explains why education is hard to do

* Egan claims that we have typically looked at education as part of a balance. The idea being that if not able to be balanced then ultimately the compromise is the best solution. He says that these ideas are traditional ideas and they are not hacking it for us. He offers that we need to give up that each of these ideas for 3 bad ideas does necessarily make a good idea. He clarifies that confused ideas make for confused solutions.

** Egan is huge on developing of the imagination in children. He says that the world is wonderful and that it should not be so difficult to show kids that the world is wonderful. he has written several books about developing imagination.

** Egan likens education to the process of giving children tool kits. These tool kits can be anything from oral language, cognitive, storytelling skills, metaphor, images in mind to express ideas, sense of mystery, or story structure. He describes education equal to picking up as many tools as many as possible. he puts forth the idea of children choosing a topic each year and building on that topic over the year, so that in the next 12 years, every child will know as much on that topic as most people n the world.

** Egan out forth the imagination as crucial to children learning about the world around them. Yet, he claims the imagination can work only with what you know. The more you know the richer you can imagine.

** He became curious about education by asking questions such as why kids collect cards. He says there is very little out there about how children make sense of the world.

** Egan proposes that the problem of today's schools is that they do not get a sense of that wonder and asks "how you can make everyday teaching infused with wonder"

** In commenting on the PISA (international testing of industrialized countries) he says that we need to look on what is being tested. He says of course a child at a private school, where wealthy kids go, are doing superbly well on the 5 paragraph essay for they teach it to death. He says, of course, if the finite goal is measurable, it's not hard to reach the goal. He adds that in Singapore they do great on the tests, but that a great deal (of schools) is dreary beyond belief". He ends with saying that "This is a not an education triumph one we should be seeking to emulate." Oh! what a breath of fresh air this guy is. At this quote I made up my mind to buy one of his books.....I'm sold!!

** On questions about the role of technology in education, he says that "education is a conversation amongst generation, but that crucial to education is a conversation, face to face conversation is always going to be crucial to education."

** The most important message Egan left me with was his view on nature of knowledge. He proposes that no knowledge can be in books, on the Internet. He calls those things carrier of we 'codes'. He says books, Internet are invented ways we have found to express our knowledge. He says that the only source of knowledge is in human mind. He says schools often confuse codes and knowledge. "We see as satisfactory the repeat of certain kinds of codes are rewarded. We reward people for something that could be meaningless. We accept code in place of knowledge. He sees the role of the teacher as needing to "resuscitate knowledge from code. Instead of getting kids to replicate code, to seek meaning."


2/7/11

Fascinating Larry Cuban on Education Reform

.
I listened to an online interview with one of the great education thinkers, Larry Cuban online, He is emeritus Professor of Education at Stanford University, and the author of the 2001 book “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom.” His blog is at http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/about/, In his own words: "I am a former high school social studies teacher (14 years), district superintendent (7 years) and university professor (20 years). I have published op-ed pieces, scholarly articles and books on classroom teaching, history of school reform, how policy gets translated into practice, and teacher and student use of technologies in K-12 and college. "My most recent research projects have been a study of school reform in Austin (TX) 1954-2009 and of a large comprehensive high school in (CO) being converted into several small ones between 2001-2009. The Austin book, As Good as It Gets, is now available for purchase.

Notes and reactions to the interview:

Cuban snickered when presented with the idea that technology will be the next big "revolution" in education. Being in his 70s and having been in education all his life, he has heard it all before. He believes that schools are "not built to be transformed".
He explains this by saying that the "Fundamental mistake people make when they talk about schools is that they think schools are built around one mission; to gain knowledge and skills. He says this is no doubt an important mission, but he adds that school actually have multiple missions. These multiple missions may be anything from making citizens, securing core values of a community, making school avenue of social mobility.

* Cuban shared his experience blogging about education and explains that he has 3 criteria for himself when he writes, (1) that he writes clear, (2) maintains his writing less than 800 words, and (3) he takes a position. As a blogger it made me think about possibly setting up a similar set of criteria.

* One very interesting aspect of the interview was Cuban's ideas about school reform. A book he has written in the past addressed the "dirty secrets of turn around chools".
He agrees that yes, there are ways to turn around schools and get low to mod to high scores, yet MOST schools will not stay turned around due to the instability of the changes that occur in school. He also attributes this inability to keep scores up to the lack of the kind of expertise and skills and capacity needed in these places. He adds that there are not a "cadre of people that can get job done, dust hands and leave schools, these are not atttractive venues for experienced people.

* Cuban suggests that teachers learn best from one another. He adds that there are respectful ways to help teachers that are not ways not coming from vendors or or policymakers do not want to go that route at all. He simplifies his sensible advice to bettering schools as (1) give teachers the tools they need, (2) have them work together and (3) give them support.

* Cuban is a self-professed techno-skeptic Which means that he does not believe the answers to all education problems will come from education. He strongly be lives that in the end it's still needs to be about the standards, the curriculum and then if you can use technology to help in these areas then by all means use them, but he is very strongly against thinking of them as THE answer.

I will be following his blog from now on......I have a new guru.

2/6/11

Open letter to Mayor Gray on Education

Dear Mayor Gray,
As a parent of a child in the District as well as a teacher working for the District I feel a renewed sense of hope in DCPS. I hold hope that the new administration has what it takes to unite teachers, administrators and District efforts towards one common goal of making DC the one of the top public school district in the country.

I absolutely agreed with Kaya Henderson in that you can teach using any platform across the academic spectrum, yet, if the kids can't do the basics in the end it's no good. I also agree that accountability needs to happen in some form to insure top quality service is being provided to the children. Where I see a disconnect happening is that in trying to sift out the bad teachers the good ones are getting trampled, and from what I'm seeing, great teachers who can leave, are leaving the District.

In trying to find solutions to this issue I have read a lot on what top countries are doing and what exactly make them so effective? Let's take Finland, for example. Finland has a system where it's so hard to become a teacher, but once you become a teacher you are fully trusted to teach. In Japan, teachers work collaboratively on best practice goals and observe each other to perfect their practice. I feel the solution to the disconnect I mentioned above lies in these types of solutions where teachers are in charge, or at least more heavily involved in their own professional growth and improving of practices as part of their assessment.

As a teacher of 13 years I work on my practice daily. I teach the same lesson to different kids and each time I tweak my practice to make it better and more effective. In addition, I also read books on education, follow policy, read current research trends, I joined a PLN group online to collaborate with other educators around the country and joined a PLC at work to constantly refresh my soul and my practice....this is why I became a teacher. Good and great teachers naturally want to do better all the time. The ability to work on my own practice and my own goals as a professional is just as important to me as the teaching part, they are inextricably connected.

I loved it when Chancellor Henderson said on her online interview on the DCPS site that she wants other districts to envy our educational system and want to steal our teachers instead of the other way around; which is what is happening now. I believe and know the District has a potential to be the best public school system in the country in testing, in teacher quality, but also first in innovation. I recently read a quote from a Shanghai principal on the PISA (The international test used to compare US and other countries):

Developed countries like the U.S. shouldn’t be too surprised by these results. They’re just one index, one measure that shows off the good points of Shanghai’s and China’s education system. But the results can’t cover up our problems,” he says. Liu is very frank about those problems — the continuing reliance on rote learning, the lack of analysis or critical thinking — and he says the system is in dire need of reform. “Why don’t Chinese students dare to think? Because we insist on telling them everything. We’re not getting our kids to go and find things out for themselves,” he says. As well as the limitations of the Chinese education system, Liu says, it was only students in Shanghai who took the PISA tests, and Shanghai has some of the best schools in China.


When I read this I thought, "So the Chinese (who seem to shine in standardized tests) want to be more like us!!, not the other way around?" When I read this I was also deeply inspired. I knew then that The District could be the best in the country, and also best in the world if we can somehow get all parts of the system to work together in a system that honors all participants. Although I love the simplicity of the TEACH components within IMPACT, it's unavoidable 'gotcha' quality disinvites teachers from the proverbial table and places them front and center of the problem.


America has innovation, creativity, free thinkers, that is where we shine as a nation. In innovation lies the fire that will light up the future for the entire nation and beyond; a future we do not yet know or even envision. I feel we could be top in authentic education by working on 2 aspects, (1) DC has the richest resources in the whole country in our backyards and for free; the Smithsonian museums. As an excellent elementary art teacher who does an amazing job meaningfully weaving history, science, L.A. and math in my curriculum I was disappointed to learn that DCPS does not even have a head of art department. How are teachers to then connect with these institutions and take full advantage of what they offer?

(2) DC has some of the amazing and awe-inspiring teachers; it's DC's second richest resource. Why not take these teachers with a proven record in authentic whole-child education, who can do it all, who can inspire the mind, who can help kids not only memorize facts but to think, analyze, and make kids into self learners and have them be part of the solution. Why not use these teachers to create a collaborative mentoring system that is so rigorous, so demanding for all teachers that once they 'pass' they are trusted to teach. The mentoring system will be like the National Board certification of the teacher assessment world.

To close, last week I heard a lecture given by Dr. Sir Ken Robinson through TED talks. In it he talks about education needing to move from a 'factory model' to an 'agricultural' model. He offers a new paradigm for education. He believes education needs to be likened away from the factory/fast food model and switch over the an agricultural model. We can't make the plants grow, but we can create the conditions in which good growing could happen. I believe the answer to both teacher retention and improving the scores lies in this very powerful analogy. Let's start worrying more about getting the conditions of learning where they need to be to maximize learning and stop putting the majority of our efforts on the gathering of the data.


2/5/11

Notes on Where is Math 2.0?

As Nora napped today I listened to and interview with Maria Droujkova about Math 2.0. Maria is a founder of Natural Math. Natural Math is

" a network of people interested in making meaningful, useful, beautiful and fun mathematics. The current and recent projects of Natural Math include Math Clubs, an open online resource called Family Multiplication Study, participatory book/multimedia projects on Multiplication Models and Early Algebra, courses connecting mathematics with programming, game design, physics, ecology and art, and a study of mathematics in social networks called "Where is Math 2.0?" The five closely connected parts of the Natural Math framework are mathematical authoring, community mathematics, humanistic mathematics, executable mathematics, and psychology of mathematics education."
and more info about her,
"Maria grew up in the Ukraine, where she was active in Math and Science Olympiads and young scientist organizations. Her undergraduate work at Moscow State University was on bifurcation theory, a branch of differential equations theory. Maria continued studying mathematics at Tulane University in New Orleans, while focusing more on mathematics education. For her doctorate work at North Carolina State University, she looked at roles of metaphors in the growth of mathematical understanding. Maria organizes events, workshops and seminars, runs research projects, and helps people from toddlers to professors in their endeavors. Maria lives in Cary, North Carolina with Dmitri, her husband and colleague of twenty years, and their ten-year-old daughter Katherine."


The interview was titled, " Where is Math 2.0?" and the link to the interview is here.

The interview began with Maria defining 'social objects' and Math 2.0. Math 2.0 is a forum online where people interact around a social object in the topic of math. The social object would be the product that may come out of that forum.
The math 2.0 forum allows people to communicate and collaborate around a social object which may be anything from a book, a problem, or perhaps even a YouTube video.

What was most important about the idea of social objects is the fact that most math that happens in school does not actually allow children to create. As a teacher of art I see a huge gap for me to fill in this area. I can absolutely create social objects. In most math platforms in schools you engage in it and when you leave there has been no trace of you having been on it.....like the math drill sites online.

I really liked this interview for I have never even thought about math in terms of today's technology and social media. Apparently the social web is filled with a plethora of forums geared towards language, activities around the written work, different media, photography, game development, arts, anthropology. Yet, there is still very limited social mathematics happening on the web. There are plenty of sites when kids can practice math exercises online yet we do not yet see kids creating any math-related projects online.