For the first "Things That Have Me Thinking This Week" post of 2012, I have taken a bit of a shortcut and decided to look back at the most influential posts from 2011 from the recent Edublog Awards.
This post, which was chosen as the most influential post of the year, is from Linda Yollis, a third grade teacher in Los Angeles. It offers a great introduction to teaching students to create meaningful comments on blogs as Mrs. Yollis succinctly qualifies comments as either one-point (general comment) or two-point (adds to the conversation).
"A one-point comment is a general comment that doesn't add very much to the post. Example: I like your blog. Please visit mine! A two-point comment adds something to the comment conversation. A commenter might compliment the writer in a specific way or add new information. Another idea is to make a connection. Maybe the post reminds you of an experience that you've had. Share that connection! Try to end your comment with a relevant question. That way, an interesting conversation can develop."
Spoiled Brats - Teacher Tom
This post from Tom Hobson, a preschool teacher in Seattle, finished just one vote behind Kathy's for "Most Influential Post." It discusses the struggle many adults have with giving some control to students/children. The post focuses on the fact that we cannot truly prepare our students for the real world if we do not allow them the freedom to make some important decisions for themselves. Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:
"I'm all for fewer "spoiled" children in the world (although I'd like us to retire that label along with "bully," "aggressive," and "shy"). These children are characterized as self-centered and demanding, inconsiderate of others, see their needs as most important, and will resort to often extreme behavior to get their way. These are not happy children and they tend to grow into unhappy adults who struggle with relationships, have a hard time holding jobs, and are generally miserable to be around..."
"...Awhile back, I met a women who works in the admissions department at the University of Washington here in Seattle. She told me that increasingly freshmen are showing up on campus without such basic life skills as using can openers, cooking on a stovetop, and operating a washing machine. She said the problem is so bad that many universities have had to institute remedial life skills classes. Instead of learning to do things for themselves, "spoiled" kids have turned to mastering the skills required to get things done for them, which will often look a lot like being self-centered, demanding, and even tyrannical. So for your own sanity (and to avoid "spoiling" your child), I'd suggest teaching him to do as much for himself as his age and abilities will allow."#3
I Resign From Teaching - Josh Stumpenhorst
This was my favorite of the nominees for "Most Influential Post of 2011." In this post Josh describes the change that I feel we need to make in all classrooms as we move from teacher-centered classrooms to learner-centered classrooms, where the teachers are learners with the students.
Here's an excerpt from the post that sums it up well:
As I am sitting at my desk I am no longer teaching but guiding. I have carefully constructed learning questions and activities for each student. The students are working collaboratively with each other on differentiated learning activities and producing a variety of evidence. They don’t look to me to tell them how to show they are learning but choose how to learn and how best to show me they are learning. They no longer seek me for the answers but look to the array of resources I have provided for them. I am no longer the source of knowledge but merely another learner in the room. Soon I will become invisible and the students will take complete control over their learning. My life as a teacher will cease to exist and a whole new one will replace it.