Monday, December 31, 2007

Famous People With Disabilities as Inspiration

"I couldn't read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape."

Every student with a learning disability I have taught through the years can remember a particular point in time where they realized something was different about the way they learned. The student's dislike of school and self criticism can usually be linked to this period or event. Some students remember a specific phrase by a teacher or classmate, others remember the embarrassment of having to stand in front of the class unprepared and red faced, and most can recall being pulled out of regular education for resource help. When I meet the students assigned to my special education caseload as Sophomores in high school, I want them to look at how the learning disability has formed their attitude as a learner and determine what impact it has had on their dreams and aspirations for the future. I used the Schwabb Learning Disability website that is linked at the bottom of this page and created a multimedia project for students to view that includes persons from past and present who had learning disabilities, but did not let it prevent them from fulfilling their life goals. I will use this blog to showcase these wonderful people who have provided inspiration to many young people with learning disabilities by using a quote at the top and revealing the famous person at the end of the day's blog.

The reveal for the famous person quote at the top of the blog is:

---Charles Schwabb,

founder and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation

Schwab is listed as the 50th richest person in the United States with a fortune of approximately $4.6 billion.

Top Topic of Tweens and Teens on the Internet Social Scene is School!

Tweens and Teens are replacing passive television watching during off school hours with online social networking according to a study conducted by Grunwald Associates LLC in cooperation with the National School Boards Association and underwritten by Microsoft, News Corporation and Verizon. The study was made up of three surveys including online surveys of 1,277 nine to 17-year-old students and 1,039 parents, along with telephone interviews with 250 school district administrators who make decisions on school policies regarding the Internet.

Interesting findings of the report include:
  • 71 percent say they use social networking tools at least weekly.
  • More than one in five online students (21 percent) say they post comments on message boards every day; four out of 10 (41 percent) say they do so at least once a week.
  • Students report that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education.
  • One in six (16 percent) say they use online tools to create and share compositions that are more sophisticated than simple art or stories, including virtual objects, such as puzzles, houses, clothing and games.
  • Nearly one in 10 (9 percent) submit articles to sites at least weekly or create polls, quizzes or surveys online.
The report can be seen at the National School Board Association Website

Teacher Tube: 24 Hours in the Life of a Digital Native

A Kinder Kindle, Please?

There is a new kid on the block to rival e-book devices. The Kindle device, marketed by Amazon, offers wireless connection through Whispernet (which is provided by cell phone carriers and has a wider coverage than Wi Fi). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, “This isn’t a device, it’s a service.” The Kindle is looking to take on other portable readers by mimicking the size and shape of a paperback. It weighs just a bit over 10 ounces and uses breakthrough technology called E-ink, which gives print book clarity on a six-inch screen. However, the real boon of the Kindle device is the longevity of the battery, boasting 30 hours per charge and a recharge within two hours. The font size can be changed which will be appreciated by the small print-challenged, however the downfall is that there is not a text to speech capability for persons who are blind or dyslexic. Perhaps the creators will go back to the drawing board and upgrade the Kindle to be a “kinder device” for the reading impaired among us. For the time being, I will have to keep my service.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Education and Technology

There is no doubt in my mind that our educational system is stuck in the Industrial Age. Education is not only stuck in the Industrial Age, there are still remnants of the Agrarian Age. We still continue with the attendance practice of summers off to accommodate farming.

We are in a period of adjustment with technology that is very uncomfortable for many people. The paradigm shift is at an angle that has us reeling and feeling off balance. I am willing to embrace the technology, yet I stand back because it is moving faster than I am capable of making decisions. When I did the Great North American Paradigm Quiz in McCain and Juke's "Windows on the Future", 27 out of 29 of the statements described my experience before age 20. Bubble gum was a penny and people used to schlep through the grocery store with a cigarette hanging from their mouth. I send my husband off to do computer purchases because it overwhelms me. I get frozen in the middle of the questions of what technology can do for us. I see the speed at which information is accessed and tasks can be completed; on the other hand, hours of my time can be devoured while I browse – with no productive completion of my task at hand.

There are so many issues to resolve. Technology futurists insist that education has to change to match the needs of young people today. Research is showing that growing up in a media rich environment actually changes how the brain works and the best way to deliver learning is through the gaming format that children are drawn to. This terrifies many educators because the terms of play and games are antithetical to what is accepted as education and learning. The current method of education is based on the need to have obedient workers who become skilled in a specialty and stay with it to produce efficiently and proficiently. The education system mirrors the factory assembly-line that made us the economic power in the world: compartmentalize by grouping children by age, specialize by training teachers in different areas, move the kids on down the line and use tests and grades for quality assurance. I believe this system is not working for students today. I make this statement, but I do not have any answers. I look to the leaders in the field to direct us. That is why I decided to get my Master's Degree in Education Technology. I want to be an educator who is part of the discussion and not blocking it.