Ten Uses for a Classroom Blog Part 2. From the web series: “10 in 10” where we look at ten topics in ten minutes.
It is time to bring iChat back.
For those of you unfamiliar with iChat, when Apple released OSX.2 twelve years ago (can you believe it?), it also released a new video/audio messaging system that was to challenge Skype. It came free with every computer.
I suppose not a lot of people used it to its full potential. Apple has a history of deleting unused or underused features (see the latest versions of iWork, and of course RIP iWeb, and iDVD both of which were ahead of their time).
The reason that Apple needs to bring back iChat, or at least the feature set of iChat into its current FaceTime / iMessage video system is this:
iChat had some awesome features that even NOW are not available in the free versions of Skype or Google Hangouts. These included:
Text chat: You could carry out a multi-point text conversation. I know, everyone can do that now, but 12 years ago, that was unheard of.
You could have an audio chat. No big deal, we call that phone calls. But you could call up anyone from your computer and start an audio chat if the text chat was not enough, all without switching programs. Voice over IP for the masses.
If the text and audio were not enough, you could then create a video chat. Again, we are all in the same program, iChat. All of these things are without changing programs.
If talking to a single person were not enough, you could then have a multi-point video connections ( I know, Hangouts has this ability.) Up to 4 connections could be on a conference at a time, and using some nifty video and audio compression techniques, there was little or no lag time even on the crappiest connection.
But to me, the pièce de résistance from iChat was this:
iChat had an amazingly easy way to share files with the other users; You simply dragged and dropped files into the video chat screen and whatever you dropped could be seen by all the users in the chat. Movies, audio files, PDF files, Keynotes, documents, whatever. Wanted to share a video? Drop it into the chat. Want to share a PDF file? Drop it into the video window (which was called the theater). I do believe you could even record the video connection as well. Yes, Skype and others can do that now, but iChat had them all beat to the punch. Even now, the Skype method is more clunky than the drag and drop method of iChat.
When Apple dropped iChat, it replaced it with FaceTime. And while FaceTime is nice for a point A to point B conversation, it is only a single connection. There is no text chat. For that, you have to use Messenger. There is no multipoint connection. There is no screen sharing. There is no file sharing. In order to do those things, you need multiple programs, AND the person on the other side needs multiple programs as well.
Google hangouts or webinar programs such as Blackboard Collaborate are the closest thing now there is to the old iChat. Google allows 6 simultaneous connections and also allows screen sharing.
iChat, was way ahead of its time, and probably most people did not use it to it’s full ability.
But now that Apple is touting “Desktop class” processing on it’s phones and iPads, it is time to bring desktop video conferencing capabilities back.
Time for FaceTime to learn a few tricks from it’s grandfather iChat.
Are you listening Apple?
Bill Robertson is a good friend of mine and is affectionally known to thousands of students across the US and around the world as “Dr. Skateboard.” He recently released a new book “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning" on Corwin Press. He graciously has agreed to answer a few questions about his book.
But before we get started, let’s look at a video about what Action Science and Dr. Skateboard are all about:
Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you ever get the idea to mix science instruction with BMX and skateboarding?
I’ve been a skateboarder for over 35 years, and have done demonstrations nationally and internationally. I have done hundreds of demonstrations in festivals, events and in academic settings. In my onsite school demonstrations, I have performed for thousands of students in elementary, middle, and high school levels throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico and into South America.
Additionally, I have been an educator for over twenty years. My academic areas of expertise are science education, curriculum development and technology integration. I also teach and do research in the areas of problem-based learning and action science.
As an educator and a skateboarder, I knew I would have unique opportunities to instruct and to work with students and teachers, and the development of action science is a practical example. Through skateboarding and education, I have learned creativity, practice, patience, discipline, and goal setting. Many of my audiences of students and parents typically don’t see the connection between skateboarding and science. They often wonder, if you have a Ph.D., why do you ride a skateboard? The answer is because it’s fun and it’s part of who I am.
Give us the 10,000 ft view of Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning.
How can you get young people interested in science and mathematics? What efforts are there to integrate the experiences of young people into the things they need to do and learn in school? How can action sports, like skateboarding and BMX, be used to teach physics, algebra, data collection, and help students to grow in their engagement and motivation in science and mathematics?
An answer to these questions and more are addressed in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning, a new publication from Corwin for Middle School teachers and the students in their classes. This book combines physical science concepts in areas such as forces, motion, Newton’s Laws of Motion and simple machines set in the context of activities that young people enjoy doing, such as riding bikes and skateboards.
Many authors of texts are looking to solve a problem. What problem are you trying to solve by writing this work?
Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning was written as a resource for teachers to integrate a relevant and practical setting for learning centered on youth culture that would allow for the study of fundamental physics principles to be brought forward in skateboarding and bicycle motocross (BMX). This book looks to solve the dilemma that many teachers face in teaching the concepts of physical science in a context for the modern learner. Placing the content in a relatable format with action sports as a focus, combined with the use constructivism, this book presents a strategy for teaching that is student-centered and built on active learning strategies.
Do you think that by using skating and BMX as your starting point, you might alienate girls that traditionally are not attracted to these sports?
Why write a book about physics set in youth culture? Primarily, it is a resource for middle school science teachers that integrates physical science content in the context of action sports, which should help to increase engagement and motivation in the classroom. The methodology integrated within the book is a student-centered, teacher-facilitated approach that allows for active learning within the classroom. I think this is an inclusive work that is designed to appeal to boys and girls, and the goal is to integrated engaging content to motivate learners. I also think that it can be easily expanded in the future to showcase other examples of Action Science that might be more applicable to girls, such as surfing, snowboarding and inline skating.
You have integrated a lot of QR codes and web links into the work. Do you think that text books need to become more interactive to capture the reader’s attention?
The content, images and associated video with Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning are meant to help the teacher to provide relevance for important science applications through the use of hands-on activities and engaging video and graphical content. I do believe the teacher needs to integrate technology in teaching and learning, and this book is designed as a crossover text that integrate video and high quality images that enhance the engagement aspect as well as unlock the interactive nature for content immersion by students. The book describes a process that a teacher can effectively utilize that integrates both relevant science content and purposeful teaching methods. It is not a workbook or a series of activities in and of itself, it is a professional development resource that utilizes an approach that can be integrated into the classroom in order to help the modern student learn more effectively.
Action Science is targeted to middle school students. Why that grade level?
The purpose of this book is to provide middle school teachers and students with a resource that will help them to be better equipped to instruct students and to provide students with rich and compelling content that is motivating and engaging. Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is about today’s modern student in today’s modern classroom, and is designed to help teachers with relevant and practical approaches in science instruction. As with all middle school students, but even more so with marginalized students, science education needs to be transformed, and Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is a great example of student-focused transformative resource designed to reach the modern learner. This is the way you wish you were taught and certainly the way in which you would want your children to learn.
How do you mix a constructivist approach to learning with skateboarding? Why do you believe in this methodology for instruction?
For education to be constructivist, the traditional teacher-student relationship, which historically has been defined by a method of the teacher delivering content while students listen passively, is discarded. Instead, teachers must serve as facilitators, mentors, role models, co-inquirers and friends, while helping students to seek understanding to the content of the classroom curriculum. Teachers need to view themselves as respectful guides and compassionate helpers who provide students the opportunities to become actively involved in their own learning and in classroom operations.
The constructivist approach used in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning has been used over many years in schools across the United States and internationally, and the method is focused on the student and puts the teacher in the role of a facilitator in the classroom. This book combines detailed methods for instruction in the classroom, relevant activities for students to do, and captivating photos and video of top professional and amateur extreme sports athletes doing difficult and captivating tricks that underlie the science being presented.
Some say we need to go back to the “old ways” of teaching and learning: Kids sitting in desks listening to teachers teach. What do you say to that?
I say “no” to that idea and think that education needs to be relevant, practical and learning needs to be active and student-centered. This book describes the need to make the science curriculum relevant, so that a transformative educational approach can be used to motivate middle school students to learn science. If students who are reluctant to become engaged in schoolwork, can come to enjoy learning concepts in physics, such as, forces and motion, it may up to them open other educational experiences in their everyday lives.
Do you subscribe to the research that says physically active kids are more academically successful? If so, how do we get kids up away from TVs and video games and into the environment?
The importance of an active environment for learning that integrates oral, visual and kinesthetic strategies by the teacher allows for learning to center on the students. In this manner, teachers become change agents, linking the relevant life experiences of the students to the content of the curriculum, and in no area is this more needed than in Middle School science. The teacher must work to establish links within their learning communities, and to try and engage their students in active learning projects that require them to interact with individuals inside and outside the school. For the constructivist education teacher in science, learning needs to be extended into the fabric of student’s lives, not solely as a subject to be explored uniquely in a classroom.
I always like to end these interviews with this question: Who is listening? Who do you HOPE is listening?
I know that people wanting to reach young people, to make science content relevant and learning a fun process are listening. I am also sure that the action sports industry, specifically in the areas of skateboarding and BMX, are listening and actively looking for ways to combine education and action sports. Who do I hope is listening? I hope that teachers needing a path to relevance and a way to re-energize the classroom are listening. I also hope that Teacher Preparation programs and university professors are listening, and that Action Science can proliferate as an educational approach and methodology for teaching and learning.
You Can find “Action Science:Relevant Teaching and Active Learning” at these locations :
For more Dr. Skateboard Action, go here:
Ten Ed Tech books for summer reading in ten minutes. Part of the Ten in Ten series from EPISD.
Ten Google search tricks in ten minutes. From the series 10 in 10
I wonder why my Tumblr activity has dropped to almost zero?
Visits outside of Tumblr are up, but within Tumblr..not so much. Did I miss something?
There seems to be a growing movement among parents, led by folks such as Diane Ravitch to encourage or to actually remove their students from taking state standardized tests.
Parents such as LA Times journalist Karin Klien pulled her daughter out of testing after realizing that they do not actually help the learning process:
"As a journalist, reviewing an early state test that had been leaked to the paper by a teacher, I saw how thin and fault-riddled it could be. One question asked students to mark what they thought would be the best title for a certain reading passage. The answer the test sought was obvious; the title was direct and on topic, though flat and uninteresting. There was another choice, a better one, it seemed to me. It wasn’t as obvious an answer; it struck me as the one that a director would pick for a movie rather than the one a test creator would pick. The difference, if you will, between “Star Wars” and “Luke Travels in Space and Shoots Down a Big Weapon.”
I really have no argument here. I do not think the tests as they are currently structured actually help anything more than the testing industry and real estate people who want to sell higher priced homes around “the good schools.”
National organizations such as Fair Test have sprung up challenging the notion that student have to take “the test.”
I get it. I really do. But I wonder if the method will end up hurting the message.
Some people are choosing to opt out their children because they don’t see an academic benefit, like Klien.
Some are opting out their children because they see the stress on their children.
Some are opting out their children because they have a political agenda and “want to send a message” although what exactly they are protesting (NCLB, Common Core, Race to the Top, Pearson, ETS, taxes, Obama, Arne Duncan) is pretty nebulous. “I am just pissed at something so I am pulling my kid dammit!”
But I can’t help but wonder if these parent opting out their kids actually help their cause any?
Schools are still accountable.
School safe still beholden to the scores.
The law does not change just because someone choses to pull their precious snowflake out of a test.
The results are still going to be published.
The schools are still going to be ranked based on the test scores.
And who exactly is being pulled out? I would bet, although I have no data to back me up, that it is upper middle class connected parents like Klien pulling their upper middle class children who would pass the test anyway.
Why do I feel that way? Because the message is posted on social media: Facebook, Blogs, Twitter. You know, where the middle and upper middle class folks hang out. (I am sorry, but I simply don’t think that there are a lot of lower middle class or poor folks reading Diane Ravitch’s blog or reading the opinion section of the LA Times. I may very well be wrong, and I will change my mind in a minute of you show me data. ) Not connected to the net? You aren’t getting the message. Who is not connected to the net? You go ahead and guess. (It is no secret that test passing rates are directly correlated to family income. )
So what does that leave schools with? If the kids that were pretty much gonna pass the test opt out, the ones left are the ones that were either NOT going to pass or were on the bubble of passing.
You can guess what will happen to scores on these tests. It is similar to having your best players injured right before the big game. (Ask the Notre Dame women’s basketball team how well that turned out.)
Just as a rising tide raises all ships, a falling tide lowers all ships.
Schools are still accountable.
Scores still count. A principal or teacher cannot use the excuse that all the “good kids” didn’t take the test.
Politicians and state education departments look at the data and only the data. Scores drop, then there is something wrong with the school or district. Period. They don’t care if the star didn’t show up that day.
Jobs will be reassigned or lost based on these scores all because you didn’t like Arne Duncan. So all the STUFF that happens when a school does poorly, all the extended pressure, all the extended professional development, all of the tutoring, all of the EXTRA TIME AND EFFORT used to pass the test is multiplied.
By opting out, I suggest that the exact opposite effect will happen: It will do nothing to help improve the schools. It will have the opposite effect because schools will go into permanent “pass the test or else” mode when scores go down. The Sisyphusian task of getting a school into an “acceptable” score is made harder all because someone decided to pull the kids out that would have made the task less difficult.
Peter C. Lippman, author of Evidence-Based Design of Elementary and Secondary Schools: A Responsive Approach to Creating Learning Environments graciously wrote a three part series on Guiding the Design Process in School. This series look at how he and his architectural team goes about doing a single project.
Even though the series looks at a single project, the idea of school design process applies to all educational facilities.
This is a fascinating look at how schools should be designed. Those of my readers that have been interested in The Third Teacher or the works of Prakash Nair will feel right at home reading these entries.
I am honored to present to my readers Peter C. Lippman, author of EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: A RESPONSIVE APPROACH TO CREATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS in multipart series. This is part three. Enjoy, and please come back for the entire series. —TBH
The Early Learning Centre at Holy Cross College in Ellenbrook, Perth
During the schematic design phase, EIW presented the concepts for creating breakout rooms, hollows, niches and nodes to Holy Cross College (HCC). Given that HCC welcomed these ideas, we were able to develop a parti that provided these activity settings. The parti for the plan was a pinwheel. This form connected the wings where the classrooms are located to the central multipurpose space (Fig. 12). Furthermore, the goal of the parti was to create spaces that would inspire, motivate, and transform the learners.
For this reason, this Early Learning Center learning was planned with settings:
Building on these ideas, the learning studios were designed to support between 25-32 learners. Since these spaces had to support a variety of social groupings, fixed elements as well as moveable features (furniture, furnishings and equipment) were introduced into these spaces. Hence, the studio spaces were planned for six differentiated activity settings, which can expand and contract as needed to support the learners as they work on the task-at-hand.
Conceptually, the six activity settings were created for each room. These were: a block corner; a painting corner; an area for creative play, reading corner; science area, and reflective area. Whereas, built-in cabinetry was used to define the reading and block corners, a trough was placed near the toilet room (in the Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms) to create an art corner. Tack boards were placed over the cabinetry, and idea paint was used as a finish on different wall locations in the rooms. This feature is planned to encourage teachers and students to display and share their reflections and notions about the activities in which they were involved. Lastly, moveable tables, chairs, and soft seating were used to differentiate the areas between the corner settings (Fig. 13).(Fig 13)
Salient Features of the Early Learning Centre—Sliding Doors, Corners, Breakout Spaces, Glazing, and Technology:
Sliding doors between classrooms and breakout spaces, which are lockable, were used rather than folding walls. The decision to use sliding doors was based on research; for, folding walls are neither user friendly nor do they offer the spontaneity of use that is often believed to be best practice (Lippman, 2013b; PEHKA, 2012). Furthermore, symbolically, doors reinforce notions about integration and differentiation; when open, they can connect spaces; when closed, they separate spaces. Sliding doors allow the teachers to take ownership of the spaces. Because they can easily open and close the doors, the teachers can choose, at any given time, how they want to use their spaces. Whereas folding walls when open eliminate corner activity settings, the sliding doors, whether open or closed, maintain these areas as work spaces (Fig. 14a & 14b).( Fig 14 a) (fig 14 b)
Corners result from creating demising walls between spaces. They are defined areas, which have been utilised throughout the plan to afford as many potential breakout/activity settings as possible. Because these spaces provide refuge and prospect (Lippman, 2013b; 2010), learners are able to focus on the activity at hand, and are still able to view and hear what is going on around them. Hence, these specific features of the classrooms defined block building, reading, and painting, to name a few, while connecting the actions of the learners to everyone in the classroom (Fig. 15a & 15b).(Fig 15 a) (fig 15 b)
Glazing was thoughtfully integrated throughout the school spaces. Along the exterior perimeter walls of the classrooms and breakout spaces, aluminium framed windows were used as a feature to provide natural light into the spaces. Furthermore, the sills were installed approximately two feet above the finished floor. This was done intentionally to provide a height that was suitable for this age group. Lastly, the height of the sills allows the children unimpeded visual access to the world beyond the walls of the centre (Fig. 16a & 16b).(fig 16 a) (fig 16 b)
Not only was glazing used along the perimeter walls, but this element was introduced into the demising walls and sliding doors between the classrooms and the breakout spaces. By doing this, natural light streams in from the outside into the more interior breakout spaces and multi-purpose area. Glazing has been employed at varying heights to encourage learners to explore the world of the center from a variety of vantage points. This approach builds on the Reggio Emelia concepts that provide visual connections between the spaces (Lippman, 2010). This feature also personalizes the learning environment; for, no matter where you are in the centre the learner is in all ways connected to others (Lippman, 2010).
Lastly, becomes an informal teaching tool. Glazing provides a sense of safety; for, staff is able to view the transactions that are occurring between the spaces (Lippman, 2010). Furthermore, this feature becomes a modelling tool for the learners, since they can see into other spaces and view the accepted and preferred behaviour of their peers and teachers (Arndt, 2012). Hence, the glazing reinforces the culture of the learning environment. This not only encourages young children reinforces the culture of the place.
Technology is overlaid in these settings to support the activities. Classrooms and breakout areas feature LCD Screens (Lippman, 2013b; 2013b). In some breakout settings, there are moveable tables with chairs as well as soft seating and rugs located in front of them, while in other spaces fixed cabinetry has been built to encourage learners to use them (Fig. 17).(fig 17) The Early Learning Center was planned with a variety of Breakout/Push Out Areas. We featured a breakout room, hollows, niches and a node (PEHKA, 2012). These spaces were realized as differentiated while at the same time integrated with one another. Furthermore, these spaces were understood as places that reinforce the learning that is occurring in the instructional spaces. Given this, these spaces were attached to the instructional spaces.
In addition to the features described, much attention was given for determining the most appropriate finishes. Rather than using bright primary colors, the team chose a more refined (subdues and restrained) approach for the interiors. Muted colors (blues and greens) were used to define areas in the classrooms. These were integrated in the vinyl floor and into the tackboards. Lighter color wood finishes were used for the cabinetry, the sliding doors and the vinyl flooring in the breakout nodes and niches. Lastly, the walls were painted white. The effect has been a building that is warm and bright. Teachers and students alike have taken ownership of the spaces by:
By taking this approach for the finishes, one of the goals of this project was to provide spaces where the building could be rediscovered in a variety of ways from different vantage points anytime throughout the day. Depending on the time of day, size, and age of the learners, they will be able pick-up different features of the spaces, resources and displays of their environment that might have always been available but had never been perceived (Gibson, 19XX). By exploring the spaces, learners develop a better understanding of their spaces. From a neuroscience perspective, the hope for these settings is that the stimuli will prompt them to explore their surroundings. From their transactions in the environment, elements will unfold and provide them with a new schema affording them knowledge and awareness of their settings. Hence, the building was designed to encourage brain development.
For us, creating this alternative learning environment which would motivate, inspire, and engage learners as well as stimulate brain development was a moral imperative. To do this, we recognized that the role of the design professional must evolve. We had to recognize the value for having a foundation in child development and learning theory. We made a point of understanding the actions that would occur routinely in the settings, and, finally, we needed to understand the culture and context of this place.The Holy Cross College Early Learning Center in Ellenbroook, Perth offered us a unique opportunity to design this building as a vehicle for learning. This responsive approach is an architectural cultural shift in thinking, from making buildings to questioning the reasons for creating them. For this reason, our process begins with:
End of Part III
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