Dropouts

Ran across a post about a study that found the most common reason for high school dropouts.

Reasons cited – emphasis mine:

  1. Toxic environment outside of school – student experiencing violence or other issue at home
  2. Relationships with others – failure of a student to connect with an adult at the school
  3. Lack of support – “The salience of school isn’t there because of what’s happening outside the school building, and they aren’t finding the supports they need within school…”

Wow – I sure sense one thing here: Let’s blame everything EXCEPT the school.

Each of these reasons points to an external cause of the student leaving school. Did it ever occur to them that the reason might be school itself?

I see this happening right before my eyes. My daughter was very serious this summer about not returning to school. She is not suffering any violence at home, connects with many adults at school, and I think the salience of school isn’t because of what’s happening outside of school, but rather because of what’s happening inside of school.

One commenter points out the possibility of undiagnosed learning disabilities. In our case, they have been diagnosed, but she’s had little support at school. We’ve done a tremendous amount away from school, but very little has happened at school.

She feels — and I see — very little salience for school in the outside world. What she learns and does in school has no meaning to what she sees outside. It feels irrelevant.

Talk about toxic environment. The vast majority of assessments are bubble tests. She doesn’t happen to be good at taking bubble tests… so every time she turns around she’s getting a failing grade. There are 2000 kids in her school – it’s loud, chaotic, and can be violent. She feels trapped, has no control over her life there.

Fortunately there is one adult who has made it worth her while to be there. Let’s hope it’s enough to ensure she finishes.

Digital Content

Being a digital content developer, I’m always on the lookout for articles about how schools are using/acquiring digital content.

Great article on Mindshift, “For Public Schools, the Long, Bumpy Road to Going Digital” brings up many good issues and possibilities.

7 year cycle: Schools are stuck in the 7 year curriculum cycle. I sat on a district curriculum committee and saw how it hampers any opportunity for teachers to be nimble and take advantage of new content and technology. As a developer, I know that things in the tech world change so fast, it’s impossible to say what will be available in 7 years. If it were my money, I’d never commit to any digital content for more than a year or two.

Expensive! Schools never have enough money to do what they need to do, and buying content/curriculum is no different. Yet, content is expensive to develop. Contrary to what many believe, digital content is actually more expensive to develop, not less. Sure, you don’t have to print a book, but really, printing the book is a miniscule expense compared to the time to develop good content. Things like video, audio and interactives take time and money to develop.

Free resources: There are some tremendous free online resources. Teachers often create excellent resources — but that is also expensive, or done on their own time (which is wrong.) There has to be a move to fund digital content development differently – not on the backs of the schools and teachers.

Flexibility and customization: Digital offers tremendous opportunities to customize content and how you use it. The future lies in the companies that can offer this flexible, customizable content that allows teachers to incorporate material in their curriculum, rather than the company dictating what the teacher does. Add a quiz? Sure. Have students cooperate on a writing assignment? Yup. Enable students to share their work? of course. Search for specific subjects, rather than using the text as the publisher printed it? You bet. These are all things that have to be enabled.

2e

Awesome article about Twice-Exceptional kids, Gifted + Learning Disabled = No Desk for You by Daniel Peters in the Huff Post.

This is EXACTLY what we’re going through. It’s a scary article for me to read – exactly what we’re seeing.

He outlines 3 paths for these gifted/LD kids:

  • ID’d gifted, never id’d LD
  • ID’d LD, never id’d gifted
  • strengths and weaknesses cancel each other, never id’d as either.

Love this quote — this is almost verbatim to what we’ve been told:

If you have advanced cognitive and/or academic abilities, you are able to score below to low average and then considered to be doing “fine.”

 

This one gives me strength to fight again:

We do not need our 2e children to be famous, but we do need them to get the assistance they need to do well in school, and further to bring their talents to bare. They have a civil right for a free and appropriate education and the protection of special education laws designed to give ALL students equal access to learning and achievement.

 

This is crucial:

4. Legislators and educational administrators should eliminate any absolute performance requirements from federal, state, or district policies for the identification of children with specific learning disabilities that prohibit the inclusion of higher ability children from needed services.

 

We have been told over and over again that since our daughter isn’t failing, there’s no way she’s getting any help. Thank goodness she has had a few teachers who have, without questioning, provided necessary accommodations that have allowed her to access the education she has a right to access. One problem is that the type of accommodation differs depending on the class. The school allows only one set of accommodations. Again, thankfully we’ve had teachers who have been willing to work with what is needed.

She’s never, ever, ever gotten any specific help for learning disabilities. We’ve been told over and over that she doesn’t qualify and they can’t give her any help.

The little help she’s gotten has been at our expense. As things are getting worse in high school, I so wish we had pushed harder and had sought out other solutions.

In reading the recommendations, I feel somewhat better — as we’ve done ALL of this — over and over and over. Without success. I’m not sure what more I can do.

1. Trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone. If your child is struggling and he/she is not performing to her perceived potential, advocate for him/her.

2. Talk to your child’s teacher and/or appropriate personnel and let them know where and how they are struggling. Request a meeting to discuss your concerns and for strategies to be put in place.

3. Request a comprehensive evaluation in writing if your child’s challenges are not improving despite initial school intervention or services. Pursue qualification for an IEP or Section 504 Plan.

Every student deserves the room, the space, the opportunity to excel — the metaphorical equivalent of a desk of his or her own.

ISTE Day 2

My ISTE Day #1 wasn’t really an ISTE day…. spent the morning at the World of Coca-Cola. Definitely a polished, high budget experience – very directed. They used an interesting combo of text labels and short 30-second videos scattered throughout. We then went to the new Center for Civil and Human Rights. Blew me away. Deep look into the Civil Rights movement in the Atlanta area. It was fascinating, moving, disturbing and well-done. While it was quite directed, there was still more free exploring. Well done media, lots of reading.

ISTE Day #2:

  • Our poster session was bright and early at 8:00. I arrived at 7:45 — there were people there waiting! We were out of bookmarks (I brought 60) by 8:10. Tons of people, lots of interest, great questions. We have lots of ideas about what to do next year!! Looking forward to it!
  • Caught the tail end of a couple of sessions.
  • Exhibit hall: oddly, had a great time in the exhibit hall. Connected with a few vendors I’d talked with in the last year about digital books. I will follow up with one of them – to keep our options open.
  • Talked with a couple of cool sites/ tools: knewton.com and tackk.com. Tackk.com is a free basic webpage (single page) builder. I can totally see using this in sessions with teachers!
  • Went to a last session about digital content. Very interesting. Confirmed what we knew – teachers want something beyond a pdf. Comments include: extra multimedia, annotation, ability to add content, social sharing.
  • EdTechWomen dinner — awesome! Met a number of interesting and accomplished women: principals, Microsoft employees, business women, teachers. Great conversation and connections. Thanks for the advice, @teachwatts. Will let you know when the book is done!
  • And in true ISTE fashion, I had a great conversation with someone in the hotel elevator that we continued in the lobby. Tip about a digital storytelling session that I missed, but has resources. And we did some great AP History bashing – one of my favorite things! :-)

Iste is really about the people.

Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then… | Langwitches Blog

Copyright Flowchart: Can I Use It? Yes? No? If This… Then… | Langwitches Blog.

Fantastic blog post about copyright, fair use and more. This blogger has a nice series of posts about copyright, so is a great resource. This is a very confusing, murky topic and deserves some attention.

Please reference the excellent infographic in her post.

 

More Cs!

2 Layers of Learning and Teaching with Technology | IGNITEducation.

Great post with a new framework for thinking about teaching and technology. To summarize: Three Cs for students, Three for Teachers.

Student: Collect, Create and Contribute

Teachers: Curate, Conduct and Connect

(We are, of course, familiar with the other Cs – collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. In my work, we add content and context!)

From a personal point of view, I definitely don’t see this happening in my daughter’s school. It’s more like memorize, regurgitate and fill in a bubble.

Professionally, I can see keeping this framework in mind as a model for building content for schools. How do we make content available that students can collect? that teachers can curate (although we do the initial curation for them)? How do we make it available that it can be repurposed into various types of projects?

How can we finance the time it takes to curate the content into something manageable for teachers or students? How do we finance the tech infrastructure that is necessary to deliver this content in a manner that is usable? How do we find tools that all schools/students can work with? In this era of ever-shifting platforms, tools and approaches, it’s impossible to land on one solution that fits every need.