My first Wikipedia edits!

For one of my classes this semester, we are writing a wikipedia page. Although I’ve read about how Wikipedia works, I’ve never actually done this. Very excited to learn how to contribute.

Turns out, it’s pretty simple. While in a class yesterday, I was looking up different labels for types of jobs, blue-, white-, and pink-collar, and found out that there is also green- and grey-collar jobs. On wikipedia, however, some link to each other but not to all. This seemed like a perfect first step!

I started with the blue-collar page, went down to the “see also” section, and added some links. Toute simple.

My first Wikipedia edit
My first Wikipedia edit

I got excited and started searching through how to add content. I found a video that I’d taken while in Florida this January from our trip to the Everglades. So I uploaded it to the Wikimedia Commons and put it on the American Alligator page.

Actually, I accidentally put it on the American CROCODILE page, and as I was blogging it, realized my mistake. I learned how to find how to UNDO a change!

Reaction 5: Accountability, Educational Research Methods, and Inquiry

Captured from Brian Reiser's paper cited below.
Captured from Brian Reiser’s paper cited below.

Feuer, M.J., Towne, L., &  Shavelson, R. J.  (2002) Scientific Culture and Educational Research. Educational Researcher 31(4) 4-14.

U.S. Department of Education (2003). Identifying and implementing educational practices supported by rigorous evidence:
a user friendly guide.  Available at /evidence_based.asp.

Reiser, B. J. (2013). What professional development strategies are needed for successful implementation of the next generation science standards? Paper prepared for K12 center at ETS invitational symposium on science assessment. Washington, DC.

Clearly Feuer, Towne, & Shavelson (2002) were at odds with the policy emphasis captured in the “user-friendly guide” by the Department of Education in (2003), though they were clearly open to increasing use of randomized, controlled trials: “Although we strongly oppose blunt federal mandates that reduce scientific inquiry to one method applied inappropriately to every type of research question, we also believe that the field should use this tool in studies in education more often than is current practice…. We have also unapologetically supported scientific educational research without retreating from the view that the ecology of educational research is as complex as the field it studies and that education scholarship therefore must embody more than scientific studies.” While they leave the field open for many different communities of inquiry, the DOE report narrows the focus onto just one. This narrowing of the range of inquiry, in my view, is short-sighted and extremely limiting in three ways.

First, as we learned in Organizing Schools for Improvement, change takes time. It often takes five years for a new program or community to be built and show results. There can be an implementation dip, where the disruption of change actually makes things worse initially. As we learned at Waukesha STEM this week, the first six months of their new idea of “connect time” was true chaos with teachers ready to get rid of it immediately. Now it is one of the pillars of the way they have changed to student-centered learning. Second, the narrowing of a focus to one kind of method as suggested in the DOE report means that there are fewer questions that can be asked. For example, there is no ethical way to use randomized, controlled trials to understand the experience of homeless students in schools. As Feuer, Towne, & Shavelson state, “The question drives the methods, not the other way around. The overzealous adherence to the use of any given research design flies in the face of this fundamental principle.” Finally, it is increasingly clear that a diversity of ideas drives innovations and solutions, and “the presence of numerous disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, psychology, sociology, economics, neuroscience) focusing on different parts of the system means that there are many legitimate research frameworks, methods (Howe & Eisenhart, 1990), and norms of inquiry.” (Feuer, Towne, Shavelson, 2002) We need multiple Discourses (Gee, 1990) in educational research.

The Department of Education report is meant to address the gap between research and practitioners. Feuer, Towne, and Shavelson quote the National Research Council that said, “Educators have never asked much of educational research and development, and that’s exactly what we gave them.” What I found compelling about Reiser’s (2013) paper on professional development for the Next Generation Science Standards was that it seamlessly wove theory and practice, describing the cultural shift to one line messages, giving examples of the way practice is now, and describing what it should be. For example, Reiser writes, about the “shift from learning about… to figuring out,” and “Inquiry is not a separate activity—all science learning should involve engaging in practices to build and use knowledge.” Further, when Reiser outlines the key principles for professional development, lists a series of recommendations, and includes practical examples, like the suggestion, “One fruitful way to engage teachers with records of practice is for teachers to analyze video cases of teaching interactions.” In the frame of distributed leadership, changing systems of practice happens through changing the routines, and this paper clearly brings research to bear on precisely what is being done in the classroom.

(Somewhat more philosophically, it is ironic that just as the Next Generation Science Standards are shifting towards an approach of describing phenomena first and then trying to explain it, while Department of Education clings to the old scientific model of inquiry that dictates rigid positivist methods.)

What are the implications for school leaders? I see the appeal of a one-size-fits-all, tried-and-true, what works solution, but I think most educators know that nothing with kids (or teachers, for that matter) works that way. Yet when faced with a field of educational research that seems to have a lot of internal conflict about what is considered “rigorous” research, what do you do first, on Monday, when the kids show up? I think this is why the ideas of design and professional community are appealing as a way of improving educational systems. Design, to me, is not about realizing one fixed answer, but rather is constant process of listening and testing, embedded in local context rather than seeking to minimize it. Similarly, focusing on professional community builds the capacity of people and context, rather than seeking to minimize them. Just as inquiry is not a separate activity when learning science or for educational researchers, it is not a separate activity for leaders, either.

Studs Terkel’s Working, a graphic adaptation by Harvey Pekar

IMG_3321 IMG_3320

This is a reaction paper written for a course on Education and Work…

Pekar, H., & Buhle, P. (2009). Studs Terkel’s Working: A graphic adaptation. New York: New Press

Of course the first thing I noticed was that they didn’t profile any teachers! But I think this actually says something about my reaction to the book. The visual form of a graphic novel made the stories very intimate, moreso than when I listen to something on This American Life, for example, because of the scene and surroundings. There were some that I could picture myself in. The pictures amplified the already intimate stories of individual and community struggles, frustrations, joys, anxieties, discord, desires. In particular, the chapter about Dolores Dante, the waitress, brought to life the environment, the juxtaposition of the job with customers. On page 76, you see the way she is positioned over the customers, visually manipulating them, paralleling her attitude of control. On page 85, the acrobatics or ballet of keeping the tray balanced is wonderfully represented.

The most heart-wrenching story for me was of the migrant boy, particularly this line: “The children are the ones hurt the most. They go to school three months in one place, then on to another. No sooner do they make friends, they are uprooted. Right here your childhood is taken away. So when they grow up, they’re looking for this childhood they have lost.” (p. 22) It is so easy as a teacher to forget the world a child faces outside your classroom, especially when as a teacher you personally have no experience of what they’re going through. One summer, I taught in a “catch up program” for kids in an old mill town in Massachusetts. There was significant family issues for many of them, and one of my students spent the mornings sleeping under the desks. The supervisor’s attitude was that if this is a safe space for her to sleep, then that is the best thing we can do for her.

Finally, the last visual that came through strongly for me was the image of the hand, particularly in the story of the organizer. This is a fairly obvious symbol, but powerful nonetheless. You see the comparison between the father that worked with his hands and the uncle who used his hands only to cut coupons. (p. 28) You can then see the hand cutting the coupons on the left and bills falling, beginnig the motion that then opens onto the pyramid on the opposite page. The hands are prominent on the pyramid, working against each other in pushing the pole or turning the machine of some kind. The pyramid with the Eye of Providence at the top, similar to the backside of the dollar bill. On the dollar bill, the pyramid sits under the mottos “Annuit coeptis” (he favors our undertakings) and “Novus order seclorum” (roughly, new world order). Literally, the working people are attempting to change the way the world works through collective efforts of the hands, but I think you could see their efforts as futile due to the arms at the top that hold the machinery of the world still. The arms come from the sides, with suit coat sleeves and tie tacks, one hand resting easily on the top, “College professors and management types…” on one sleeve and “They have the kind of power Eichmann claimed for himself.” Eichmann was one of the major organizers and logistics manager of the Holocaust. He was found in 1960 by Israeli intelligence in Argentina and convicted of crimes against humanity. Below the left arm, is written, “They have the power to do bad and not question what they’re told to do,” which was Eichmann’s defense in his trial. The images are powerful and draw you in, revealing layer after layer of symbolism and meaning.

Last year, I took a MOOC on Comic Books and Graphic Novels, taught by Profession Kuskin at University of Colorado – Boulder. Not only was it a great course: I learned so much, and it gave me the skills for reading a graphic novel and a profound appreciation for the medium. I’m not sure if they’re run the course again, but I would definitely recommend it!

How do we use information?

Reaction to the following articles:

Bryk, A. (2010). Organizing schools for improvement lessons from Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Excerpt from Gee, James Paul. (1990) Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses, Critical Perspectives on Literacy and Education. London [England]: New York.

Newmann, F.M., Carmichael, D.L., & King, M.B. (in press). Chapter 6. Authentic Intellectual Work: Improving Teaching for Rigorous Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin

How do we use information? This is a really broad question and might not seem on topic for this week, but I’ll get there. First, I returned to Chris Thorn’s “Knowledge Management for Educational Information Systems: What is the state of the field?” (2001) that we read last semester. He defines knowledge and it’s relationship to information and data. Data is facts, information is facts + context, knowledge is the facts + context + experience, judgement, intuition, values. (These are actually definitions from Epson, 1999, that Thorn cites.) There is thus a progression from data to knowledge of as facts are brought into a Discourse. Two different Discourses might take the same data and come out with different knowledge. Thinking about it in this way led me to think about what we have discussed the last two weeks about how administrators have the power to bring a policy into their Discourse (if they have established one, of course).

But returning to the question of how we use information, what I find so exciting about Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is that it is an information gathering tool that seeks to measure what I would call the “good stuff” of teaching and learning: the conversations, the higher-order thinking, the student interest, social support. What’s more, the implementation framework actually establishes a Discourse around the use of the information, changing the way educators interact and centering the conversation around the empirically gathered information – not about thoughts, intentions, feelings, etc. Teachers are coached on how to see and understand the information that is already in their classrooms.

In a different turn on how we use information, Organizing Schools for Improvement uses data to show relationships in a way that I had never seen before. It was the first time I had seen a quantitative analysis of systems that even attempted to show synergistic effects, such as Figure 4.11 (p. 114), showing that schools strong on two supports did substantially better than those strong in just one or the other support. While I have struggled with accepting the use of math and reading scores as measures of “achievement,” I think the way it was used here has merit. Since the schools deemed “improving” were the ones in the top quartile, it does seem that this would represent genuine learning. It seems it would be hard to exclusively teach to the test and get into the highest quartile.

Continue reading “How do we use information?”