Friday, October 21, 2011

Moving forward with PLNs

My all boys’ class has been writing up a storm this semester with our work on PLNs.  We have moved from the first 6 weeks of each writing their own response on a selected post/ blog:
Tony Wagner’s “Rigor Redefined” portrays how the youth of the twenty first century is not prepared for the largely evolving work place. Throughout his article he asks CEOs about the youth they hire and how efficient they are. They all explained that the youth they hire are great at the bases of their job, however as they increased into the higher level requirements and more detailed work they just couldn’t process it. This makes me wonder, is the job marketplace evolving too fast for the schools and colleges to keep up. If you ask me, I believe that schools are not improving what they teach simply because the leaders of education are lazy. They don’t want to respond to change. However if a small group of teachers tried to push that change into action I believe that my generation would be much more prepared for the future. In the world the younger people that are trying to get jobs are having a hard time because employers are no longer looking for the blunt man or woman that can do the same thing all day long. They are looking for the person that thinks at a different level of thinking, a much higher one that can ask questions and be focused on a broad topic. It explains in his article that people are working as teams to finish goals but those people don’t even know each other or even work in the same country. People are being brought together through a global conferences and connections online. But those people aren’t the young ones that have just been employed it’s the veteran that knows what he or she is doing. I believe that between now and my generation graduating from college there will be enough time to improve on education as a whole and complete the goal of preparing us for the jobs they may not exist. However there is also time for the job marketplaces to grow even more and exceed a milestone that was never thought possible. But as time goes on its hard to depict what will happen in the future. Many of the CEOs said that the main problem with their young employees was that they couldn’t focus or bring their ideas to a conclusion. Which brings me to ask like Nicholas Carr’s “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” has the internet made our attention span much lower?  In the case with the employees not being able to focus that problem is only found in the younger employees rather than the older ones. The problem with them not being able to focus may be because of the younger generation’s deeper connection to the internet. As we move forward into a different type of work ethic; do you believe that changing the goals we learn in school will make us more prosperous in the work place? I believe it would make the next generations to come much more ready to succeed and be able understand what they are doing. So as we move forward into the future I just hope that schools and colleges can catch back up to where the workplaces advanced to.
Then we moved towards writing on others’ blogs:
Mr. Stager:
I was intrigued and entertained by your article and Silvia’s videos but I disagree with some of the points you made. I watched Silvia’s videos and was very impressed as I could not see my self, a ninth grader at Arapahoe High School doing something that educational or high quality for a school project let alone in my free time. I am usually worried about a hockey game the next weekend or the cheerleader in my science lab, not learning how to use an Arduino or a new computer program to do something productive. This sentence from your article really struck me “While you bathe in the warmth of your PLN with self-congratulatory tweets, Sylvia is sharing serious expertise with the world.” The fact that I am currently doing a PLN(Personal Learning Network) for my english class makes me think if you are calling out my teacher. PLNs are the first time I have been exposed to blogs and all of the blog posts we have had to summarize are sending the same general message of improving education with technology. 
 I respect Silvia’s devotion and love for what she is doing but she is one of few in our current education system. I, like many others in my class have just started to understand the art of blogging and personally I am pretty proud and then there are the kids like Sylvia who are clearly a level head and shoulders above kids like me when it comes to lust for knowledge. There has always been people like Sylvia who are fortunate enough to come form such supportive parents and has a love for learning and we call people like that over achievers or active learners. Its not meant to be an insult in fact the opposite but it helps show there is another side of the scale. Kids who come from divorced parents living off lower wages who cant afford home computers and struggle in school and life in general. We have to give both an equal opportunity for an education. Should we send them to different schools, or should take away Sylvia’s opportunities and give the challenged kids the same attention Sylvia needs or vis versa.   
And to the blogger responding:
Greetings from South Korea!
Thanks for reading my work and for taking the time to write. My article is indeed an indictment of many educators who fail to seize the remarkable capacity of children and help them go farther than they could have gone on their own. It’s not an attack on specific teachers, nor does it negate the value of blogging, although blogging is just a new place to write.
I don’t understand why you think that all kids could not profit from the experiences afforded Sylvia? Is it fair to blame kids for their parental involvement? Is that really determinative of a kid’s educational aptitude or achievement? As I said in the article (above), the reason we have school is to democratize such experiences and let more children benefit from them.
Few parents are chemists or conductors or sculptors or authors. School assembles people with a variety of expertise and makes them available to more kids.
Each Friday, 6 boys present on one selected PLN to the entire class. The presentations work on using good speaking skills:
  • Stand in the front of the class with your blog projected on the screen behind you
  • Present your blog entries
  • Talk about what you are reading, what matters from it, how does it connect to what we are doing in class, and how does it relate to the world around us?
  • Presentation must be organized- Use an organizational strategy to keep your presentation on track without reading from notes or the screen.
  • Make eye contact with audience
  • Must be creative and interesting: use attention getting opening and conclusion to tie ideas all together
  • You are not allowed to miss on your assigned presentation day!
  • Stand up straight
  • No fidgeting: keep arms and hands in good speaker positions
  • Referenced blog postings- connect similar blog postings under one thematic idea
  • Asked question of audience at end of presentation

During the presenter’s presentation, the classmates are giving feedback on the presenter’s individual blog.  Once the question has been asked at the end of the presentation, the gentlemen answer the presenter’s question while the presenter facilitates a group conversation.  We have conducted about 6 weeks of presentations.
This week began a new venture for the PLN presentations on Friday.  We Ustreamed out the presentations for the presenter to be able to self-assess and for others to watch what we are doing. 
The gentlemen had trepidations today knowing that others were going to watch what we were doing, but I think for our first go around, they did a good job.  We will see how the rest of the semester goes and carrying over this idea into second semester.  Here are some samples from today:

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