Monday, June 11, 2012

The Conversation Begins

After reading the first chapter of the book, what do you think of John Spencer's pencil analogy? Do you think it is a fair comparison to the conversations that are being had about and opinions of 1:1 computing in schools? Share some of your initial thoughts on the book and this analogy.

21 comments:

  1. My favorite quote, "Don't confuse efficiency for effectiveness. Aren't you more concerned with learning than with organizing assignments?"

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  2. I found the analogy to be perfect. The move from one tool to the next is what should be contemplated not the tool itself. As we know, tool are those things that are intended to make our jobs more efficient or effective. The quote stated by haydensg is one sub-categories to consider. Are we teaching for deep conceptual learning with purpose or are we teaching to complete a product?
    As the book states many times, we are doing both and they do not always support each other. The business of schools is to educate. What has happened is the teachers were left out of this conversation a long time ago. So the business looks for tools to make teachers efficient. The false analogy is that efficiency produces effectiveness.

    For 20 years we have been talking about the importance of moving away from the "factory model of teaching". Some of us have stopped talking about teaching and moved on to learning. I guess my question becomes something that John seems to struggle with throughout the book- who are teachers supposed to be? What is our role and are we a product of they system or is the system a product of our roles?

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  3. The analogy was great. I laughed all the way through and read many parts to my husband who is also dealing with educational technology. We have started the 1:1 ratio of computing in the high schools. Some staff are using it to the maximum while others won't even allow the students to open the tablets to take notes. Many embrace the technology, some try to find uses for the technology and others believe that there is nothing wrong with their approach, therefore no need to integrate technology.
    Chalkboards versus Smart boards....I loved it. It is not easily being embraced by many teachers. One of our district principals commented to his staff, "If I take away all chalk and markers, how would you teach then." This school has smart boards in all classrooms.

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  4. Tools and Toys-Is Spencer saying innovations, whether pencils, ink pens, computers, ipods, etc. each should be used to engage students in all aspects of learning and not be defined as a "either or"?
    In each generation, public education seems to be driven by the social, economic and political milieu of it times. If there is a problem in the economic or most any arena, education must be changed to ....accomodate the solution. It is interesting that many of the solutions are often times suggested by the very individuals who were a part of the initiating cohort. Needless to say, I am enjoying not so much what I am reading, as what it is generating in terms of personal reflection.

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  5. I am enjoying the analog in the book-makes me laugh out loud as I read. I do believe it is a fair comparison to what is currently happening with the 1:1 that is begin this fall. Many teachers are learing of the new change that will be instituded with the 1:1. I hope it will encourage them to use other ways to eduate in the classroom and not a burden

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  6. Chapter 1 has me hooked! I will probably read the rest of the book today (so much for laundry). I have had contact with teachers, young and old, who have these same excuses about new technology. I want them to read this chapter to see that their arguments sound silly when the pencil analogy is used.

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    1. I had finished reading before the question was posted. I couldn't put the book down. The book is so typical of what we go through everyday. I felt like I was reading about my building staff. I wonder what they would say as well with the pencil analogy. My husband is part of a tech reading group and their books have been very "dry". They are doing this one next. I can only imagine the discussion when they meet. I am also sending this one to my principal. We read books for staff development and this one by far is a better book. Makes one stop and think.

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  7. The pencil can stand for just about anything: computers, projectors, cell phones, ipads, etc. If we actually think of how common-place the pencil is now, just think how common-place the above mentioned items will be 10 years from now?

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  8. How many times have we come out of a conference or workshop with what we think is the "thing" that will "fix" education?? In Pencil Me In, it is the pencil itself. Today..in our school (and throughout the state/country) folks are thinking that the one-to-one computer initiative will be the "fix" that we all need. Just like Tom, I work with teachers who are all over the place in attitude/experience when it comes to introducing computers to the classroom.

    I see so many simularities between Tom's experiences and what we are going through today. This first chapter lead to so many thoughts/questions. I love his "buzzword bingo" analogy too!! I look forward to reading on.

    On a side note...I attended the Ipad Ipossibilites workshop on Monday and heard John Spencer speak. His keynote speach was inspiring (take a minute to go to http://mediacast.centergrove.k12.in.us/tight_url.cfm/URLID/766 to view the sessions he led.)

    (please pardon any typos, I am using a mobile device with word processing, but no spell check:)

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    1. Thanks for the side note. I had wanted to attend but had a previous workshop. I will check out the keynote speech.

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  9. Just thought I would step in and say, "thanks for reading my book." If anyone ever wants to chat about it, feel free to e-mail me, Skype me or join me in a Hangout.

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  10. In the second chapter I found so much that is true today. Students may be pencil natives but they aren't pencil citizens. With 8th grade staff discussions (and the same discussions are going on in the 6th and 7th grade staff meetings) many are surprised with the lack of knowledge these natives are coming to us. The staff wants to jump right in and are assuming the students are coming in with the knowledge to work with the tools before them. A few are but many are not.

    With cut backs in the past few years, we lost our communications classes which worked with various computer programs and worked with the students on the basics of computer skills. Now the students save on desktops, lose files, etc. We can not assume these natives know what to do. H drive, C drive, S drive.....the students are just as bewildered as some of the staff. Students save at home, no big deal. Students and thumb drives...I've got one. How do I use it?

    A few of my students come with the knowledge, a few pick it up quickly while others struggle. We adjust our time schedule to finish the project and in the end we hope there is some retention, but I no longer assume. We start with the basics. Those who know move on quickly and those who don't....learn.

    I attended a workshop on blogging (we have our own in house blogging site).....first thing a high school teacher (ninth grade) said was, "Will the students coming to me knowing how to do this?" "Not all, you still go through the process, but they will pick it up quickly."
    "Well, why won't they? Isn't this something they do all the time?"
    My response at this time, "Out of my 300 students (I have 6,7 and 8th grade)only 10 had ever blogged before.

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  11. I teach pre-k students and most learn how to open and navigate through learning sites in 5 to 10 days. My more affluent students using begin use at home. My less affluent students begin at the library or a more affluent student's home. By mid-year they help me create podcasts to document classroom units and enable parents to know and re-enforce what their students are doing at school. Sometimes my student and I learn about how to do things together.

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  12. I find that most of the students are very knowledgeable of computers and various electronics. If they are not they do not seem to have the fear to learn by trial and error. I find they a great resource.

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  13. We are entering our second year of 1:1 and the analogy of the pencil is exactly what we have heard for the past year. I find myself laughing as I read when I notice particular phrases and concerns that have been said at our school. I am recommending this to my staff!

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    1. I have started sharing passages from the book with teachers from my building. I have heard so many of the same concerns and complaints from coworkers.

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  14. So many of the conversations that "penci-driven" teachers have with their co-workers are accurately depicted in this book. So many of the "what-ifs" are asked over and over again. Citizenship is key. We can't expect to put a "pencil" in front of a student and say "go." These students may need to learn by trial and error how to correctly use the pencil and respect its advantages and disadvantages.

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  15. I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. The author's idea to relate the pencil initiative to technology is creative and humorous. It has caused me reflect on this past school year. This is the first year we have had net books for every student. It has been a dream come true for me, so I really struggled with teachers who weren't embracing this opportunity. Even worse were those teachers who tried to make it seem as if these were toys and not tools. For some, those of us using the net books were becoming the "bad guys" who weren't really teaching. It was beyond frustrating.
    As I have read, I am realizing that I need to be aware of their concerns and reservations. I need to have open conversations and share with them how I am using the net books in my classroom.

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  16. The book just gets better and better as I have read it. It amazes me how true to life the analogies are in the book.However it does make you think about everyones views and fears of new technology.

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  17. As part of the PATINS Project I found the information in Chapter 1 on professional development to be especially compelling. It doesn't matter if the training is on pencils or computers, training should be relevant as the author writes. In offering training to teachers in the state of Indiana I find myself constantly trying to make sure that the training I am offering is relevant and current.

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