The Power is Personal

Over the last few years, I have been studying how schools adapt to the 21st century through technology implementations. It’s all over the board: 1:1, BYOD, classroom sets, iPads, Chromebooks, iPods, laptops, etc.

The one thing I have really noticed is that while any technology (used appropriately, and not just for substitution) is a great step, the real power is when students have their own personal device. It doesn’t matter if it’s a school owned device or their own device — but that it is theirs alone to use. To personalize, to explore and to use how they use it best. This has been clear at the couple of schools who are, in my mind, the front runners of this device adoption.

I’ve seen it at my house. We bought my 7th grader an iPad to use at school this year. His school was going no where when it came to tech integration, and it made me furious. Because they had no policy about devices, there was no reason he couldn’t bring it, so we sent it. Within a week, I could see the real power in making it his own tool.

He explored a variety of apps, and figured out what worked best. He played with different planner apps, notetaking tools and email apps. He found a blogging platform that worked for his journal. The power really was in his being able to make it his own.

He was able to select his own wallpaper, put his own apps that work for him. He organizes his apps in folder very differently than I do. It’s quite fascinating, and it works because it’s his own.

I’ve been saying this to both my kids’ schools – but as I’ve posted previously, it falls on deaf ears. Perhaps I’m too pushy, perhaps they aren’t ready to go this way. BUT – I was so thrilled to see this post from Tony Vincent’s blog “Learning in Hand” about a study in Scotland (key findings of the study) which comes right out and says that personal ownership of the device is the number one factor in determining the successful use of the technology.


Homeschool: Onward!

Our proposal to homeschool my 10th grader for French II was formally approved today. I must admit I was shocked at how easy it was to get it set up. I don’t know if the teacher knows yet – not sure how she’ll feel. I would like to talk to her so she understands why we’re doing this.

Classroom foreign language learning relies heavily on rote memorization and detail. I’ve long known my daughter didn’t excel at these, and it was proven in her first term of French this year. Oddly, she did quite well last year, but this year was more focus on the details of grammar and spelling, as well as significantly more vocabulary words to memorize.

My daughter struggled as she watched other friends easily pickup the vocabulary, remember the accents and master the passe compose and other grammatical structures. She was so frustrated, it was no longer engaging or interesting.

In the last month, my daughter was diagnosed with moderate language learning disabilities – in English. According to the psychologist, the disabilities are strong enough that she will have serious difficulty in a classroom foreign language setting.

She does have remarkably strong auditory memory, and they psychologist felt that in an immersion setting, she’d learn aural/oral language very quickly. But that isn’t possible in a traditional high school setting.

So, instead, we’ll work at home. We’ll do a significant amount of speaking and listening, watching videos, reading children’s books together, and working through tests – together. We’ll write – together, with support for her weaknesses. While not ignoring the weaknesses, we’ll focus on her strengths. We’ll analyze music and lyrics, we’ll make videos. We’ll read children’s books (that’s how we learn language as kids, right?) and use French in everyday situations.

Now, how to we convince colleges that this is legitimate learning? And isn’t learning from French speaking cats more fun?



Another Brick in the Wall

A Facebook friend asked, ” What’s your favorite down/melancholy song?”  I knew I had to answer with Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” In my early 20s, I would blast this song/album whenever I was angry, depressed, or moody (which was frequently!) My roommate would turn around and leave if she came home and this album was playing. She was a very tolerant roommate to put up with me during those years!

Hadn’t listened to it in years. Whoa — words are pretty striking. While they obviously were about something totally different, they speak directly to the work I’m doing now:

We don’t need no education.

We don’t need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.

All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.