Thoughts on “All Things Google: Thinking Across Software Modules”

Today, Andrea and I are presenting at the annual MSU Tech Conference, and we are both sitting here in the kiva, Macs at the ready, to listen to the following panel discussion:

All Things Google: Thinking Across Software Modules

Google recently released a number of powerful, free tools that are very useful for classroom teachers. This presentation will showcase some of these tools, in particular: Calendar, Blogger, Reader, and Personalized Home Page. Panelists will provide brief overviews of each tool separately and its implication for educational practice. In addition, we will look across all four tools and envision how they might be used collaboratively for teaching purposes. There will be a follow up workshop on this topic presented during the afternoon session.

CTT > Center for Teaching & Technology

So, here are some notes and thoughts on the session…

Intro: Two Learning Tasks

  1. A new framework for evaluating technology
  2. Four particular tools that are important for your work

Key Principles for Evaluating New Technology

  • Free — we are looking for technologies that are freely available to anyone
    • Having a hard time getting technologies that cost money
    • Parents and students can use these technologies outside of school
    • State funding is dropping for K-12 education
    • Paying for a site license is expensive, whereas web-based tools are usually free
    • This will be important as students apply technologies in their lives outside of schools
    • Given the number of computers that are available in home and school, free web-based tools are critical
  • Future — what are the prospects that the tools that we are looking at will be around for the long haul
    • Technologies change rapidly, so knowing whether a tool will be around is important
    • Does the company or tool have a history that suggests it will be around?
    • For instance, Google has a high future potential in terms of stock, for sure, but the fact is that almost everyone is using it in some way, shape, or form
    • If you can find tools from good companies that are free, then they are likely to be around for a long time
    • Also, what support is available? For instance, Google has help centers for each of its tools.
  • Friendliness — how does the tool work on its own and how does it partner with other technologies
    • Traditionally, when we pick a tool it does one thing well. Now, we need to have technologies that synthesize and expand its purpose and functionality
    • Technology report card:
      • Works to capacity
      • Works well with others — does it add value as a tool in your life?
    • Does it work across populations that we serve: teachers, students, and parents?
      • The more it works across these populations, the better the tool

Four Google Tools for Educators

  • Calendar
    • What happens when your calendar can talk to other calendars and the people that you serve?
    • OK… I got off on a tangent trying to install “Spanning Sync” for awhile…
  • Blogger
    • What are blogs and why do they matter?
      • 50 million blogs worldwide
      • That number is doubling every 200 days (6.5 months)
      • Over 100 times bigger than just 3 years ago
      • Approximately 1.6 million posts per day
      • 11 of top 90 news sites are blogs
      • Tool for education that enables reflection, activism, and social transformation
    • Blogs allow for easy linking to other websites, blogs, pictures, and other content
    • They differ from basic websites because they allow comments
    • Tagging and allowing readers to go back through and look at themes that develop over time
    • Profiles allow students to fill out information, safely, to share info about themselves
      • We can create a class profile and highlight personal interests with tags
    • Blogrolls allow you to create links to other blogs that you are reading
    • Can use blogs for multiple purposes
      • Personal reflections
      • Taking notes
      • Class blog
      • Students posting their own work
    • Blogs can engage students in particularly powerful ways
      • A student who is writing about a tree in his backyard and how that can expand into other areas of science and inquiry
      • They can become engaged in the aesthetics of the work
      • They can become creatively invested in the work
      • They are engaged in a shared experience that contributes to the classroom community
    • RSS Feeds (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary)
      • You can choose what continuous information to receive in your RSS feeder, for instance, from your students
    • But, can my students do that?
      • Yes, the interface of Blogger is very clean and highly usable
      • It is highly customizable
      • Blogger also allows you to make things as public or private as you want
  • Reader
    • Google Reader works as a friend to some of the technologies that we have discussed already
    • If you go to a web page that doesn’t have an RSS feed, what do you do to find out if there is new information?
      • You can look for a “last updated” note, but you don’t always know what is exactly updated
    • One of the things that an aggregator allows us to do is to pool information from multiple feeds
      • It pulls in content that you haven’t read so that you do not have to go back to each individual page to figure out what you have, or haven’t, read
    • What does Google Reader look like?
      • It shows you all of your feeds, what you have read, what you haven’t
    • All of this is based on RSS
    • You can connect to students’ and teachers’ blogs, link to news sites, calendars, and anything else that is RSS subscribable (sp?)
    • Students might have a number of things that they can bring into their Google Reader, some related to official academic or news sites, other blogs (including the teachers’), items of personal interest, and friends
  • Personal Homepage
    • Ran out of time to talk about this

As I think about this session and the few times that Joe and Cherice asked the audience, “Have you heard of __?” or “Are you using ___?” — and see how many people were, and were not, using certain tools, I realize that the amount of knowledge that teachers need to have to be able to stay connected. It is a different mindset, and I think that for all the technology professional development sessions that I have done and how starting with a conversation about that mindset (and how it changes literacy) makes the most sense for educators who might ask, “Why should I do this?”

That is the question that I hope Andrea and I can speak to in the sessions that we have coming up next.

Blogged with Flock

Peer Review Publishing

Yesterday, I attended “Peer Review Publishing as a Tool for Teaching Biotechnology: The MMG 445 eJournal Experiment Using Production-Level Freeware” by George Garrity, MSU Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.

George will describe a teaching experiment, now in its second year, that he and his colleagues, Terry Marsh, and Scott Harrison, began in MMG 445: Basic Biotechnology. They are producing a peer-reviewed electronic journal of student review articles covering a wide range of topics within the field of biotech. To accomplish this, they are using the Open Journal System that was created at Simon Fraser University.

Given my current interests in exploring collaborative writing software like wikis and Google Docs, I am now trying to think more about the pedagogical aspects of teaching writing in this way. So, I wanted to hear about the ways in which students are able to do online peer review. Garrity began the presentation by giving some context about the course and discussed how the students in this course are a heterogenous group and they need to consider that as they think about writing in the course. He gave some context for biotechnology as a field as well, and discussed how the changing field has also forced him and his colleagues to ask what “basic skills” that have lasting values that they should be covering in the course. He cited the lack of a teaching text for the field as a problem, too.

He shared some insights from his experience in industry, thinking about what types of skills the setting demands from scientists. Multidisciplinary teams, adaptability, and the ability to acquire new skills topped the list, and being a curious, open-minded, problem solving, effectively communicative worker were also there as essential skills. He then looked at the course, and asked, “What is the most effective way to teacher these skills in the context of a course on biotechnology?” and “How do we keep this real?” He shared the evolution of the course from a traditional lecture-based one, to one that was very student-centered. An interesting example that he brought up was how one student group in an earlier semester turned in a paper that had parts plagiarized, and how that experience helped him rethink the way that the course was taught. Also, he discussed how the students moved to a model of leading mini-seminars based on peer-reviewed papers that they had produced. He held them accountable by switching from a pre-set list of three reviews that students would do to randomly collecting their reviews three times throughout the semester (this helped with attendance). They wanted students to read primary literature, write original seminar papers on that literature, and then review one another’s papers and presentations.

Looking at an overview of the course, he shared the background skills (library resources, writing and editing, as well as presentation skills), the enabling technologies and products/processes in microbiology, the student contributions from outside biotechnology, and the intellectual property laws. Resources that they have created for the class include a static web page, an online journal produced by the class with a real publishing system used by publishers’ websites, and electronic journals with “smart reviews.” Garrity also asks the students to read three books by Alley about scientific writing as well as exercises to follow.

Four principals from Alley’s books about scientific writing:

  • Understand your audience and what they know in terms of background knowledge and expectations.
  • Follow the right format directions in terms of structure, language, style, and illustrations.
  • Be sure to use appropriate grammar and punctuation for the format and audience.
  • Politically, the writer needs to understand how to remain honest while still satisfying the legal and organizational constraints for the message, audience, and format.

The students complete three assignments throughout the semester.

  • Review article covering an area of current research.
  • Give a 25 minute presentation (if they only present for 10 minutes, we will question them, intensely, for 15 minutes)
  • Scientific and editorial review that must be concise (2000 words), and summarize 10-15 review papers that we and their peers review. The scope of the paper has to be new material, within the last five years.
  • They have to agree to the instructions to authors statement on the website.They need to look at multiple sources in the secondary peer-reviewed literature, news articles, trade publications, newspapers, web sites, on-campus seminars. Once they find something to dive into in the primary literature, they then have to look at patent literature, too. They find 10-15 references from primary and secondary literature.

Garrity then described the editorial process from the author, to the editor, to the production of the journal. The students turn in their paper the night before the presentation, and then he makes the editorial assignments about ten minutes before class (randomly). The whole review process takes about a month, from initial submission to the final draft being submitted for the course.

Pedagogical rationale:

  • Reading and editing is informative for students as they learn from each other
  • With others critically evaluating the scientific quality of the manuscript forces authors to revise
  • The reviewers remain anonymous throughout the process, allowing them to experience the peer review process without worrying about the affective responses (positive and negative) that happen in face-to-face reviews.

At this point, Garrity shared the Open Journal System, a free and open-source progam for manuscript trafficking. He then shared their MMG 445 Journal and took us behind the scenes to see how students submit articles and reviews, and how he as an editor can control the work flow.

As I reflect on this presentation, I am amazed at the ways that Garrity and his colleagues have combined active student-centered pedagogy, quality writing instruction with instructor and peer review, and technology as a means to facilitate the process of review.

This seems like a process that many secondary teachers could adopt in their classrooms, and I like the idea of holding students accountable for paying attention to all the presentations and then, at random, three reviews throughout the semester. Overall, I was very impressed with the pedagogical and technical aspects of Garrity’s peer review process.

George Hillocks, University of Chicago: Procedural Knowledge and Writing Instruction

Another great talk on campus from a leading scholar in English Education and Composition…

Notes from George Hillocks’ talk, “Procedural Knowledge and Writing Instruction”

  • Statement about effectiveness of grammar instruction that Mary mentioned– often cited and often ignored
    • The more time that students spend on grammar leads to a negative correlation in writing scores
    • Teachers think it is important to teach grammar and kids get worse as writers as a result
  • Pedagogical content knowledge for teaching English and critical thinking
    • Last English Education was a report on the Summit, focusing on “The State of English Education and a Vision for its Future: A Call to Arms”
      • Goal 1: critical thought, dialogue, and a circumspect and vigilant American citizenry
      • The English teacher should be second to none in this goal
    • It is hard to argue with these goals, but there is no indication about how the authors would go about meeting these goals
    • Let’s assume that this is, indeed, one of the major goals of English Education — if so, we need to know what counts as critical thought and literacy
      • How do you know if someone is doing this?
      • How do you teach it?
      • How do you know if it has been taught?
    • We are entering into what I would call a task analysis.
      • What kind of knowledge, declarative and procedural, to write an argument?
        • At the very least, it involves a sense of what words are and how they work. At another level, it involves propositions and how they are supported with warrants. It separates fact from fiction, and this is the beginning of understanding argument.
      • Nussbaum, Cultivating Humanity — looks at how argument plays a role in civic freedom
        • We need to be able to look at all kinds of arguments, not just the antagonistic ones. We need to understand a cultural of critique in which argument is a Socratic inquiry, not just shouting the loudest.
      • As we listen to the arguments about the US in Iraq, we need to listen more carefully and understand the Arc of Rhetoric
        • Rhetoric is the argument of probability
        • for Aristotle, it was important to bring many arguments to bear in deliberation so that one can consider if it is “holy” (just)
        • These are dependent on warrants being tied to the claims
          • We can’t call something a good movie, without defining what a good movie is
        • Forensics — arguments about the facts of a case
          • There were no forensic arguments in the lead up to the war in Iraq
          • But, where was the evidence? It turns out that even the administration admits that the claims are now untrue.
    • In Aristotelean terms, we can persuade, negotiate, or judge (epideictic)
      • Oedipus as an epic hero and having the right to brag – this is one of the rights of heroes
    • Summary of argumentative forms
      • Fact
      • Judgment
      • Policy
    • The Uses of Arguments – Toulmin
      • One of the criticisms of this text is that you have to keep attacking the warrants and the arguer needs to respond to the arguments
    • Warrants depend on the situation
      • Forensics – based on scientific facts and the situation
      • Epideictic – based on judgment
      • Deliberative – based on ethics
    • Example from a teacher in a Chicago high school, Sara Rose Laveen
      • Students were studying argument over the course of the whole year
      • They had been studying forensic and epidectic and were working on deliberative
        • They were discussing a gang ordinance in Chicago and took different roles (community members, police officers, gang members, those falsely arrested, etc.)
        • Teacher had students working in pairs of two or three and she provided a number of resources for the students, including articles and information from the ACLU
        • Since many had had encounters with loitering gang members and the police, they wrote about their experiences and shared them in their arguments
        • When students prepared and peer reviewed their arguments, they shared them with a panel of Hillocks, a lawyer, police officer, etc.
        • They had three hour presentations where they debated and rebutted one another to discuss the policy
        • Then, they wrote extended papers supporting or opposing the policy.
        • Students operated the entire session and thinking was at a very high level.
    • 1986 metanalysis looking at experimental studies on sentence combining, grammar, and other foci
      • Computing the effect size for the gain the the experimental group divided by the gain for the control group
      • Study of sentencing combining and other tasks of procedural knowledge were the ones that showed the most gains
      • The difference between inquiry and other effects sizes is significant because it focuses on content.
      • Free writing is in the zone of what students can do without help, while inquiry is in the zone of proximal development and pushes them beyond what they can already do. This is a better model than inserting info into something like the five paragraph theme.
    • Trying to get beyond the apprenticeship of observation and move into a more robust model
      • First, we have teacher led lessons
      • Then, we have naturalistic inquiry where development precedes learning (student-centered instruction). This is opposed to Vygotsky’s notion that student develop as they learn.
      • Meeting with students had a low effect size
      • The treatment that had some kind of balance with student-led small group work focusing on a challenging task where they had to interpret or analyze information to come up with something new.
      • Students in the environmental groups out performed student in the natural process group.
    • With students in my masters of teaching degree program, I assumed that they were committed to helping children learn.
      • Certainly, no teacher would deny that they care.
      • But, making consistent manifestation of caring can only come out if the teacher understands her students, content, and the interactions between them.
      • It entails not only the ability to analyze existing teaching materials, but to create and critique new ideas
      • I wanted my students to develop ideas and lessons for active learning in their classrooms with most students on task most of the time and engaged in inquiry and constructing knowledge for themselves.
  • So, what is pedagogical content knowledge for an English teacher?
    • Example activity to help students pay attention to evidence
      • Queenie mystery
        • One warrant is that people fall forward down stairs, and that can lead to one claim about her guilt.
        • Another warrant is about the glass being in his left hand, and he should have been grabbing the banister.
          • The warrant ties the evidence to a claim — generally when people fall downstairs, they raise their hands to protect themselves.
        • There is something on the stove cooking — so what?
        • We have at least two or three pieces of evidence that lead us to believe that there are warrants to support the claim
        • His clothes are looking quite neat, the items on the wall are still straight, jacket is fastened right over left, there is something cooking in the kitchen
      • This activity takes two 45 minute class periods, and then they write on a third day, and we move on to the next topic
      • They were using more evidence at the end on the post-test as compared to what they had done in the pre-test
  • Engaging students in classroom discussions
    • Giving them the skills to take up discussions and interact with one another

    Wave-Particle Theory and Composition/Rhetoric OR Why Do Mixed-Methods Research? – Gwen Gorzelsky

    Another presentation here today, “Wave-Particle Theory and Composition/Rhetoric OR Why Do Mixed-Methods Research?” by Gwen Gorzelsky.

    Gwen Gorzelsky will explore the challenges and potential benefits of combining research methods in composition/rhetoric scholarship by describing how she brought together historical, critical, and empirical qualitative methods in her book, The Language of Experience: Literate Practices and Social Change. She argues that mixing these research methods produces both a macro-level view, which emphasizes social structures, and a micro-level view, which emphasizes social processes. At the same time, combining methods involves some important problems. She will respond to one key critique of this mixed-methods approach by explaining how she is revising the approach in her current research project.

    • Why did I choose physics? It will be non-technical and short…
      • The nature of light isn’t either/or in terms of waves and particles, but both
      • Quantum physics shows that it can sometimes act in both ways because it has elements of both models
      • The dual nature of light is part of everything — light, electrons, bowling balls — they exhibit wave or particle properties depending on the experiment, but we only really see this at the level of atoms
      • Wave and particle can not be observed at the same time, however; whether light appears in this manner depends on what is being observed and with which tools it is observed
      • The light “knows” when to behave as a wave and as a particle, but not at the same time
    • How does this connect to rhet/comp and studies of literacy
      • Plurality of research methods can weaken claims, but offers us a unique set of tools to do our work
      • Helps us understand epistemology — what we can know and how we can know it
      • Today, I am not focusing on combining qualitative and quantitative, but with empirical analysis and critical theory
      • This is the difference between inductive and deductive analysis
    • Why do this?
      • Because it changes our frame of mind for how and why to research
      • There is still, in the field, the presumption that knowledge is theoretical or empirical, but not both
      • This is where wave particle theory comes into play — we can observe measure and document both types, but not at the same time
      • As literacy researchers, we try to describe reality in similar ways, either empirically or theoretically
      • I will talk about the ways in which I want to combine empirical and theoretical work and think about the kinds of knowledge that can come from this
    • About the book A Language of Experiences
      • I am looking at how people use personal efforts and community practices
      • Looking at functional literacy, as well as all kinds of literacy practices
      • I study two historical cases and one ethnographic case to see how people create goals and go after those goals
      • I chose different cases to see the differences — struggle and social movements
      • Three features common in all the cases
        • Each emphasizes individual and group change
        • Each has secular and spiritual change
        • Each emphasizes cultural change and diversity
      • I look at the varied roles for literacy practices and to what ends they can support change
    • Reading background and research questions
      • Various research approaches are different, and one blurry distinction is that theory generally highlights large-scale structures that shape social practices while empirical methods highlight the structures in which they are reproduced (process vs. structure)
      • Think of a picture of traffic at night — you can see the streaks of light, but not the individual drivers, if you look from a helicopter (structure); process would allow you to look at the decisions that drivers make
      • I am talking about what I am seeing as an overall theory, and I know that there are places where this breaks down.
    • What does empirical vs theories of literacy produce
      • Empirical – Scribner and Cole look at how the Vai change their literacies
      • Theoretical – Foucault looking at power
      • I will suggest that historical studies occupy the ground between historical and empirical work
        • If you look at literacy across centuries, literacy can be seen as hierarchical; in the short term it can be seen as empowering for certain cultural groups
      • Empirical studies can play into stereotypes that they seek to understand; they seek to see what is rather than what can be
        • However, theoretical texts often miss the idea of intervening and looking at how we can produce and reproduce cultural reality
        • In contrast, empirical studies reveal the processes, but may not be able to do much about them
      • I am arguing that this is not an either/or — whether or not we see social structure or process depends on how we look at it
        • The problem is that we can’t see it both ways at the same time, we need to switch research methods to get both views
        • We also need to think about how subjectivity helps shape that reality
      • As I collected ethnographic data on “struggle,” I saw that my colleagues expressed pessimism and despair. This concern lead me to explore gestalt psychology theory. It contends that we see in patterns, and the mesh between language use and experience. It happens through habits of syntax and style.
        • Looking at research this way, I was able to think about language and felt experience and think about them as central to social change.
        • I am interested in looking at research subjects experiences, to the degree that we can.
        • One way that I tried to enact that is to put sections in the book that showed how I went through changes as a result of participating in that study.
      • I am arguing that each perspective gives us parts of knowledge, but these are not like puzzle pieces that go together to make a whole. They are different angles that we can use to learn about individual and social reality. Alternating among perspectives can help us go about doing that.
    • One danger is that generalizable knowledge makes us think that things are subject to universal laws
      • This approach erases individual differences
      • But, we need to bring existing knowledge to what we are doing so that we can understand
      • I argue that we can forgo generalizable claims, and instead offer heuristics to investigate a certain case
        • Simple: Who, what, when, where, how, why
        • Complex: Several sets of questions constructed from patterns built across cases and to think about how things function in given contexts
      • This does offer us ways to think about historical and lived experiences
        • I see this attempt to construct the heuristic as both good and bad.
        • I infer historical experience in a problematic way, in that they are parallel to individual experience.
        • I use data from an article to compare to a teen’s experience — I am comparing apples and oranges; written constructions versus the way someone talks about their experience
    • Where do I go from here?
      • Knowledge from historical knowledge is incommensurable with textual analysis of people’s work now
      • To the extent that texts become part of structure, it ignores process
      • I am trying to parallel structure with process, and I don’t think that they can be compared
        • I think that there is a way to compare them.
          • Ideally, I want a case that will allow me to integrate theoretical and empirical knowledge looking at how a newspaper in Penn. worked through an election in the 1930s.
          • In analyzing the rhetorical strategies in the paper, I think about the historical context (steel barons owning most of the town). I wanted to connect this to how people used the newspaper articles, but I couldn’t find any evidence of this.
        • I can obtain a structural view in this case, but I still don’t want to compare apples to oranges
          • I need to look at the heuristic and where/how I drew the parallels
          • How do the texts use discursive and ideological structures?
          • When textual analysis is focused on rhetorical strategies and their effects on readers, it can be paralleled with theoretical knowledge, but not empirical.
        • What I can do, then, is to look at the birds-eye view of structure and the on-the-ground process
          • I can look at the program’s texts and the participant’s text from the qualitative case
          • But, in considering the role of social practices in social change, I need to look at large scale movements
      • Considering cases that look at broad structural analysis are crucial because you can look at social change. Yet, the individual cases show the efforts that they made and missing that view decreases the possibilities for seeing how to change things in our contexts.
        • We can do this by thinking about the roles that we are playing in structure and process. Wave and particle both. Reality is both process and structure and we must study both of them to understand how literacy works and to what ends.
    • Q&A
      • Q: Can one researcher do it and do it well? Mixed methods is the buzz right now, and I think that we need to see researchers who know how to do both working collaboratively than any one person alone.
        • A: I agree, in the perfect world, I would like to do quantitative methods. In terms of scholarship, a richer scholarship would result if this was the case. However, in terms of politics, a co-authored book will not stand out for tenure. For graduate advising, I think that it depends on the individual student and the background he/she brings as well as the context of the institution and what they support and value. How can you do a solid project while navigating the waters?
      • Q: What we don’t have are ways to look at things in interconnected and related ways — we don’t have those ways of thinking. Specialization within the institution.
        • A: I think that is a problem and I have no way to think about how to do that beyond how it happens at the graduate level and the tracks for people’s careers.
      • Q: How do you move the discipline beyond the roadblocks when people are coming out ready to do this work?
        • A: If I think about what I have observed about the institution as a faculty member, I think that this is more about pragmatics in establishing territory rather than the intellectual pursuit. It is about our division between English and Rhet/Comp, too.
      • Q: When you are looking at a town, what kind of texts do you look at to understand the rhetorical context?
        • A: I read at the local and regional level. I looked at the larger history of the unionizing movement and then the local unionizers. I read the basic stuff to understand any historical topic as well as archival materials like newspapers, records from union drives, and all documents related to one union within a certain time period. I wish that there had been records of discussions from meetings, or a reading group, but there weren’t. Some of the articles had been designed to call people to action, and I wanted to know what those actions might have been.

    Notes from “Journalism and Academic Research on Education”

    Another great presentation today. Here are the official details with my notes below:

    New York Times education columnist Samuel Freedman will visit the College next week. He will speak on “Journalism and Academic Research on Education” on Tuesday, September 19th at 2:00 p.m. in 252 EH.

    Freedman is a Professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism. In addition to his regular Times columns, he is the author of several acclaimed books, including Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, and their High School. Small Worlds was a pioneering study of urban education and teaching careers, still major interests of Professor Freedman’s. His talk will feature attention to relations between the kind of journalism he practices and teaches, which shares some of the qualities of academic inquiry, and university based research.

    Just last week, Freedman recognized our colleague Lynn Fendler (and former colleague David Labaree) in a Times column on the uses and abuses of “reflection.” The column is posted at the College website. Professor Freedman‚s visit is sponsored by the Spencer Research Training Grant.

    Notes from Session:

    • Opening from Steve Weiland: what can we learn about educational research from journalists?
      • Journalists look for their models in every great art, and researchers can look at educational inquiry as literature
    • Freedman
      • Intro
        • I spend much of my time teaching, so I enact education all the time
        • Also, to see my parents go through school and to work with their teachers, sometimes supportively and sometimes critically, I get to see a different perspective than what most journalists might see
          • I am constantly reminded as a parent that their is nothing more important than the education of your own children
        • As a journalist, I have done many different things in my career. Musically, Miles Davis and Neil Young have never done anything the same, and I like to think that I am doing something similar.
          • As a young journalist, I learned that people care about two main things: taxes and children. Education combines bot.
          • When I went to NYT, my various jobs have often brought me back to education in many guises
          • Small Victories was one of the outgrowths of this work.
            • This came about when I began in 1987 as a part of how public education was constructed.
              • A Nation At Risk and the Carnegie Foundation’s report on Excellence in Education
              • These both looked at the unexamined certainty that schools were failing, and that is something that you should always examine in more detail
              • If there is such a paucity of great education going on, I haven’t seen it. So many people who were critical of public education without every seeing it firsthand.
              • I had seen evaluators come into schools for two or three days and presume to evaluate the entire system. I wanted to write about a low-income high school in Manhattan to show the world the day-to-day practice of education.
              • These issues stayed with me even after I finished the book and then the ideal turn of events came 2.5 years ago when NYT asked me to come into the education column.
                • This has reinforced for me the inexhaustible source of materials in education.
                • I want to talk about the intreplay between education journalism and scholarship
      • Educational journalism
        • How do you get the reporter to go beyond simply calling the expert and having some level of mastery of the field yourself?
          • How do you connect with the scholars and the practitioners?
          • We generally go with the idea of being a generalist. We want someone who can be a “quick study”
          • What this celebrates is a facile well-written superficiality
          • It is rare that you get to be on the beat for a long time
          • Just as journalists get to know the beat, they move on or get a promotion
          • One thing that journalists need to do is to be aware of the scholarly discussions going on in the field
            • For instance, the new NCTM standards as an about face from constructivist learning to more directive learning ala Singapore — this is a far way off from the entire story
          • We need to acknowledge, humbly, that those who study and practice the field have something to tell us
        • At the same time, journalists serve a crucial purpose to put theory and practice to the test
          • The goal of a good journalists, particularly in education, is to show how ideas play out at the ground level and to show how thing are
          • You do this by using the journalistic power of observation and questioning
          • You also do this by asking the “experts,” students and then teachers and parents
        • This is not a perfect system, because articles fall into two categories
          • The article that you had enough time to report and not space to explain
          • The article that you had enough time to explain and not enough time to report
        • In Small Victories, I didn’t look at everything, and I couldn’t claim that I knew everything
      • For me, one of the other watchwords about covering education is that I have always imagined schools as a gigantic switchboard. There are plugs everywhere that can be connected. Schools are a social switchboard in which race, class, culture, language, gender, religion — all the parts of human experience — come together in school.
        • This is a great fulfillment in education and a great challenge
        • You can’t neatly divorce home life from school life
      • I have also explored commonplaces and tried to uncover some of the assumptions embedded therein
        • There is some evidence of corruption and failure, to be sure, but what I wanted to show that there were some schools achieving
        • There was great success with teaching and children going to college
        • Many tried to ask me the “gotcha” question about whether I would send my kids there. I said that I would love to have my kids taught by those teachers, but no one should have to be in a school that is at 180% capacity with a roof falling in on itself.
      • I look at many of the policies that the NYC schools chancellor is doing, and I am not trying to take him down a peg, but I think that the orthodoxy is that big high schools don’t work and I want to explore it.
        • There is lots of collateral damage to this decisions — kids get displaced from these small schools and end up in big ones, making them violent and disorderly places
        • Sometimes the small schools got put into big school and it made competition for finite resources
      • Mike Winerip was great at taking the agnostic view on testing, and he was able to show how there were all types of problems with testing
      • Going out and doing fieldwork is not just about the negative though
        • I tell journalists that you can’t ever forget that you are covering something magical; if you lose site of the magic, you shouldn’t be on the beat
        • I try to make sure to come back to pay homage to the magic, as well as to keep people’s feet to the fire
        • Doing the journalistic version of field work can bring back upbeat stories
      • One other question that came up was “who do I see myself writing for?”
        • Good journalism has to speak to experts
          • If it is too simplistic and reductive, then I haven’t done my job
          • It needs a sense of subtlety, nuance, and complexity
        • It also have to speak to the general public, one who might look at the education column casually
          • If it is only for insiders, then it won’t appeal to others
          • You need to pull these people in and invite them to get the knowledge as part of the reading experience
        • I don’t get this in every column, but I try
    • Q&A
      • Q: Spellings report coming out today, what are your thoughts?
        • A: There are some many media reports that come out, and most of them are worthy, but only some of them get the attention at a higher level of visibility. It is a filter up and a filter down system — from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and other aggregators — it works backwards. It goes to scholarly and specialty publications and then starts to spread around. For instance, I missed the report on the NCTM report, but people sent me emails about it. what I find interesting to do is not to simply rewrite the executive summary, but to have them as resources that I can use later to add depth to my writing.
      • Q: Blogs and podcasts in journalism and then in classrooms.
        • A: There are two parts to the blogosphere : as delivery and as value system. As delivery, I have no problem, because experts can give a great deal of information in real time. It lets people get well-researcher ideas out into the world. As a value system, it bothers me that there is no journalistic integrity to it. It can look spiffy, yet their is no commitment to doing accurate reporting or exploring the world. There is a disdain that one can go out and report upon human experience as compared to saying “here is what I think.”
        • I think that it is great that when things happen, good or bad, that people can tell about things firsthand from cell phone pictures and first reports. Items on YouTube from Iraq is just raw material, and that is where a journalist comes in to synthesize and critique that.
        • In the long run, I hope that there is a sorting out that the audience can discern.
        • I know that the schools and teachers are using blogs and even the NYT has teachers writing for them.
        • This isn’t journalism, but this is a fun way to understand the sense of agency that you get with writing.
      • Q: Thoughts on the think tank phenomenon
        • A: You, as a reporter, should know what the think tank is about and report that in your story. You need to point out who has a horse in the race, other wise you are not doing your job as a journalist.

    Notes from “Using Multi-Media Records of K-12 Practice as Teacher Education “Texts””

    Here are some notes from another presentation on campus:

    Using Multi-Media Records of K-12 Practice as Teacher Education “Texts”

    by Pam Grossman and Anna Ershler Richert

    In this presentation we will explore the use of web-based, multi-media representations of practice in teacher education. Both of us are affiliated with the Quest project, of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Quest has been actively developing web-based cases of teaching for use in teacher education. Over the past several years, we have been looking at how teacher educators use these representations of K-12 practice in their teaching, and how both their assignments and the nature of materials focus novice’s attention on particular aspects of the work. We will introduce the overall project and explore more deeply the uses of these materials in our different teacher education settings. In addition, we will discuss how we have
    documented our own practice and created web pages that describe this
    particular teacher education strategy in our classes. Our documentation work has has provided us new ways to think about our students’ learning, which we will explore in this presentation as well.


    Anna and Pam will talk about their work as teacher educators — how to put practice at the middle of teacher education in the university and not to wait until they are in the schools. There will be an overview of the Quest project, then talk about how we use these multimedia texts in our classrooms. Finally, they will talk about future directions for the project, both in terms of practice and research that could be done.

    • Project Overview
      • Making practice visible: the development of the CASTL website
      • Learning to use multimedia materials in teacher education, developing curriculum and pedagogy
      • Creating a community of teacher educators
      • Making the practice of teacher educators visible
      • Documenting student learning
      • Now we want to know, “so what?” What is the new advantage to using these tools?
    • Part of this began as a way to help teach English teachers how to talk about literature with their students
      • How do we get them to lead kids in student-centered text discussions?
      • There was a two hour video of a class discussion on the website, and it was a lot to see (it happened in April)
      • My students would not see all the work from the entire year that led up to that April discussion; how did the teacher get there?
      • We went back and videotaped earlier parts of the year, and the website became collaborative between teacher educators
      • Yvonne Divans Hutchinson’s website.
      • Where does this fit in an already crowded teacher ed curriculum. I wanted it to be more than show and tell, and have the pre-service teachers investigate the website.
        • I developed an assignment where I created a set of questions around the teaching of discussion, and I had my students investigate the site in pairs. People took different questions.
        • Second, they had to come back to our class and enact a discussion on their questions. The pairs were split so they could lead a discussion with half of the class.
      • Decomposing practice into constituent parts
        • Leading a discussion in the teacher ed classroom to approximate
        • Then, they had to identify something that they learned from Yvonne and do it in their classroom. They taped it and brought it back to their student teaching classroom.
        • Finally, they brought it back to our teacher ed classroom. They viewed the video, reflected on their experience and sought input from their peers.
        • We are teaching them to learn from the practice of others and to learn from their own practice, making the connection between the two.
    • How to help students grapple with the centrality of “knowing the learner” in secondary school settings?
      • One thing that I didn’t expect would be how obvious it would be to establish the purpose for talking to students about how they should love their subject, and their students.
        • They didn’t understand why they were taking adolescent development
        • There are many websites of secondary teachers that are teaching well, and I wanted them to look at websites of teachers who were having success teaching students of color
      • They needed to know them as learners in general, but also in the different subject matters, too.
    • There were three texts in the adolescent development class
      • One, a hefty text of course readings
      • Two, the voices of kids — talking to adolescents
      • Third, working with the websites of experienced and accomplished teachers of adolescents
    • The websites were assigned by content area and students were asked to investigate the sites alone and with partners.
      • I gave them a frame to look at the sites:
        • How did the teachers learn about their learners?
        • What did they find out?
        • How are they using this information?
      • You have to build things into your practice to get to know kids.
    • How can we use this information to create a professional learning community for teacher educators, helping prepare doctoral students to do this work, too.
    • Representation
      • What do we choose to represent?
        • Do we need lots of video?
      • What is the nature of the representation?
        • Do we need full videos, or just clips?
      • How do we design multi-media representation of practice to best support novice learning?
      • What central principles and practices lend themselves to multimedia representation?
      • What practices, assignments, and contexts facilitate learning from multimedia representations?
      • What are the consequences for student learning in approaches like this?
    • We can now look at all these representations in many ways and we need to think about how best to use them.
    • Q&A
      • Q: One thing that you noted was how this helped teacher educators have discussions with one another. How?
        • A: Teachers talk in stories, and the video helps us look at the fuller picture of what is going on within a larger context. It is a type of case in teacher education and builds on that work. Many of the teachers come back and want to create websites so they can share their work with other teachers.
      • Q: How do we avoid the trap of having teachers look at these examples and dismissing it (these kids are not like my kids, etc.)?
        • A: I have them look at practices, not the practitioner. I also have the enactment piece, so they will try it out, even if they are resistant. One student said, “I didn’t think this was going to work, but I couldn’t believe how well it did when I tried it.” So, they can all analyze it in some way.
        • Need to select sites and focus carefully on practice. The stance that you take on it, of the “images of the possible,” is what matters. Approach it from an inquiry stance. We know that the students are going to react this way, so we need to anticipate it and design assignments in such a way that they will be able to get something out of it.
      • Q: How do novices and expert teachers look at it? What do they see in it at different stages?
      • Q: How do we have students explore this in a social collaborative way?
        • A: Looking at these sites together helped students see different things that they may not have seen on their own.

    Dr. Jabari Mahiri – Engaging “New Literacies” of Youth in Urban Schools

    I am blogging notes from Dr. Jabari Mahiri’s “Engaging “New Literacies” of Youth in Urban Schools” Presentation here at MSU. Here is the official description of the talk:

    Jabari Mahiri, Professor of Literacy and Education at the University
    of California at Berkeley, will be visiting MSU to consult with
    faculty on Urban Literacy and Education. Dr. Mahiri is the author of
    several articles and books on youth culture and urban literacy,
    including Shooting for Excellence: African American and Youth
    Culture in New Century Schools (1998), What They Don’t Learn in
    School. Literacy in the Lives of Urban Youth ( 2004), and Teaching in
    New Times: Bridging Diversity and Achievement (forthcoming).
    In his talk, Mahiri will address the nature of contemporary youth
    culture influenced both by the digital age and the age of hip-hop. He
    will show how schools need to change in this new century to better
    accommodate and build upon these new literacies that are the
    substance of experiences for many contemporary youth.

    Here are notes from his talk:

    • Intro
      • In California, teachers must get a BA/BS and then come back for a masters in a graduate school, and I am interested in looking at the cultural gap that happens when teachers get done with school, get their credential, and then head into classrooms.
      • Thinking about changing a clock. We we wait for the seasons to change instead of changing the clock. This is indicative of our mechanical age vs. a digital age and how we think about working in this age.
      • Looking at “digital natives in the age of hip-hop” as compared to digital tourists; the tourists often have to ask the natives about how to work in these spaces.
    • Current Work
      • Looking at an 8th grade school and how a teacher engaged her students in “digital DJing”
      • From 3 R’s to 3 C’s article – the current age of testing contrasts with the digital age
      • Harpers – Grand Theft Education and Your Child’s Mind
      • “Digital Natives in the Age of Hip Hop” – trying to look at those who produce and consume music
      • “Literacies in the Lives of Urban Youths”
    • Main Talk
      • Dewey – Experience and Education – I want to make the case that much of what we are arguing for today was already laid out by Dewey in 1938
        • He argued for “the necessity of introduction of a new order of conceptions leading to new modes of practice”
      • I want to argue for a “new order of conceptions” linked to the emergence of new literacies which can facilitate educators developing “new modes of practice.”
        • Imagine that a frozen man, someone who had been frozen for 100 years, walked into society today. What would be different? How would schools be nearly the same?
      • Manovich (2001) argues from a “new media” that combines graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, and other forms of texts into data that was computable — things that are able to be cut and pasted with greater mobility amongst texts
        • The computer was able to bring all of these media into one little box. To lose one’s computer would be problematic. A laptop is worth more than the $2000 of machinery…
      • The computer doesn’t say “I am going to tell you what medium to make texts in.” Instead, it offers you variability to create new media with new literacies in a variety of ways.
      • Wired Magazine – The rise of the cut and paste culture.
        • I argue that hip hop culture was one of the first to cut and paste and remix.
      • “Translating” dialects of youth culture – what effects does this have on parenting and their perception of kids living online
    • Three Digital Kids
      • Two are my twin daughters – one thing that the screen allows is a collectivity that a page will not. Kids can look at the same screen and do work together much easier. My granddaughter is then adopting the habits of the older children.
      • Example of college students writing on computers – they were willing to work on each others’ texts because it was mailable. As a teacher, you are putting your signs up over a student’s sign. Violation of space and ownership.
      • NPR story on digital kids.
    • Digital environments as social space
      • Teens spend more time online than with other media
      • These technologies allow for high levels of socializing that have kids engaging with one another, even if they are not in the same physical space
    • Genres of video games – adults need to understand this
      • Gee recognizes transformations play out in video games and how the theory of learning from video games is better for an interconnected, global society
      • Games encompass a variety of attitudes and actions – it is a lifestyle choice
        • Youth culture is composed from music, fashion, and sports – all these lifestyle choices are represented in some of these video games. What fantasies do they allow children to play out?
        • Where do the images of manhood/womanhood come from?
          • Kids making their bodies look like celebrities and other characters
          • Nissan with integrated XBox
    • A definition of literacy
      • We need a definition that tries to comprehend how people are making meaning from texts
      • SKILL(s) in the PRODUCTION(s) of TEXT(s) to make MEANING(s) in CONTEXT(s)
      • NCTE’s definition – a text is any segment of language or symbol that creates a unit of meaning including print texts, spoken texts, visual representations, and lived experiences
      • Ideas refer to each view held by the learner
        • Generating
        • Expanding
        • Sorting
        • Evaluating
        • Synthesizing
      • Youth Radio example – boxers or briefs
        • Created a full and articulated argument with a thesis, different kinds of support, and a counterargument
    • Technology Mindsets
      • Learners who have grown up digital have different views and approaches to learning, they want to multi task. (Lankshear and Knobel, 2006)
      • We need new terminology to capture what is going on. Gee suggests that we look at it as a “semiotic domain” where there is an accumulation of significations in a variety of textual mediums brought together in a domain.
      • Marjorie Siegel (1995) – transmediation
      • If we are not allowing for different ways for students to develop meaning, just because of what we think of as school, then we are limiting them. It is in multimodal and multimedia opportunities guided by creative and caring adults that children may find their own medium in which they can be expressive.
      • Dewey’s questions of school experiences are still relevant today
      • New literacies as modes of experience
      • “Understanding Youth Experiences in the Age of Hip-Hop”
      • How do we manage this in relation to standards? How do we come up with new assessment techniques for these new literacies?
        • How do we effectively engage students in assessment processes?
      • Youth as Decision-Makers and Leaders
        • We need to go to places where youth are engaged in literacy practices outside of school and understand how and why these are working in other settings.
        • We need to understand that youth are not deficient adults – youth that are creating these phenomenal texts are treated differently in these youth organizations; it is not the same type of relationships that we see in schools where it is adults sharing what they know
        • Digital DJing
    • Questions and Answers
      • Q: The thing that I see in high schools is that one wishes for youth to be more critical of the culture that they are getting through the media. The commercialization and values that are represented are not always the best. How could we help students “talk back to the media” and engage in critical literacy in thinking about when to slow down to read a text?
        • A: Gee talks about dominant discourses and powerful discourses. Powerful discourses are powerful because they help critique the dominant discourse. Kids are creating things (like spoken word poetry) that do critique the media. Listening to a spoken word text – thinking about how this youth connects his own interests, uses public service announcement genre to critique corporate and media interests. This can still integrate in with regular school topics like alliteration, rhythm, etc.
      • Q: Digital immigrants vs. digital native? Too much of a binary?
        • A: It gives us some point to talk about. There is a certain bit of exploration that digital natives will take that digital immigrants will not. For instance, I was trying to connect to a wifi network. I didn’t know how to turn my laptop on 10 years ago, and now I will search through many wifi networds until I can connect with one. It is a disposition towards exploring technology tha digital natives possess that I think separates the two.
      • Q: I am young, and do many of these things, so I don’t understand what the “traditional literacies” are.
        • A: One example is thinking about how many times a person is cited. For example, when I did a citation search for Shirley Brice Heather on Google, I found 30,000 hits. Citation is a relatively simple concept. Doing it with Google is what makes it different.