Lawrence Lessig on Fresh Air

I was in the car the other day, returning home after Christmas shopping, and Terry Gross’s interview of Stanford law professor, founding board member of Creative Commons, former board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and geek Lawrence Lessig came on the radio.  I wasn’t able to finish listening to the interview, but it’s since been posted on NPR’s site (h/t Miguel Guhlin).  Check it out!

Blogs, and Wikis, and Nings, and Things

This is liable to be a rambly post, and frankly, I’m not sure I like reading those myself, but sometimes they have to be written.

Those of you who are members of the UbD Educators wiki — are you interested in having a Ning, too?  It wouldn’t mean shutting down the wiki, but Nings seem to enable more different kinds of interaction, so I thought I’d float the question.  Jim Burke’s new Ning has become incredibly active and interesting, but he’s also Jim Burke.  Still, the success of Jim’s Ning made me wonder about UbD Educators.

Which leads me to something I have been mulling over for a while.  I think I’m stretched too thin.  I join too many online “clubs.”  And I probably just used unnecessary quotation marks.  I am currently a member of nine Nings (0nly about two or three of which I even look at, much less contribute to) and nine (or ten?) wikis, again most of which I don’t contribute to, or at least not regularly.  I have six (I think) blogs, and the one I update most is the one I do for my students.  This one comes in second, followed by my book blog.  My other blogs are fairly shamefully dormant.  When I look at the numbers, I freak out a little and feel bad.  I also wonder what to do about it, or whether what I’m currently doing is OK.

Long term career goal I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years: teacher education.  I think I want to work with English Education majors.  I’m not sure what I need to do to reach that goal, but the good news is that I am in touch with my own English Education professors, and I can ask them.  Meanwhile, if you do work with preservice English teachers, please share your advice or experiences.

I asked this question on Twitter, but got no response.  If I am a member of ISTE, is it still worthwhile to join AECT?  My ITMA program at VA Tech keeps talking about AECT, but all the tech folks in the Edublogosphere (should that be capitalized?) always mention ISTE.  Just wondering.

Finally, if you are headed to the Georgia Council of Teachers of English (GCTE) conference in February, I invite you to the session I’m presenting on Using Blogs and Wikis for Professional Development on Friday.  It’s the same session I presented at November’s GISA conference, so if you already came to that, you wouldn’t miss anything new if you skipped it.  Suggestions for the presentation are welcome.  If you were going to the session, what would you hope to learn or want to know?

OK, I have picked your brain enough today, Internet.

English Companion Ning

I am so excited!  Some time ago, I mentioned that two English teachers I’d love to see blogging are Jim Burke and Carol Jago.  Jim Burke has created a Ning for English teachers, where, presumably, we can all look forward to regular posts in the form of blogs or forum posts from Jim!  And Carol is a member, too, so perhaps we can expect the same from her as well.  Some of you have already received an invitation from me to join the Ning, but if not, consider yourself invited and come on over.  Looks pretty active already.

The Faculty Room Hiatus

You may have noticed that the Faculty Room has not been updated in some time.  We have been on hiatus since August, and though the last post said we would resume posting in September, it hasn’t happened, and I’m not sure why.  I contacted both Meg Fitzpatrick (who administers the blog) and Grant Wiggins, and neither responded to my query.  I hope the blog is not shut down for good.  I felt the conversations were valuable.  I have noticed that when I mouse over the title of the last post in the RSS feed in the sidebar to the right, I see a bunch of pharmaceutical spam.  Try mousing over the link that says “See you in September!” and you’ll see what I mean.  Not sure what happened there.  I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything about the Faculty Room.

Update: Grant has re-opened the Faculty Room, although it appears to be retooled as his personal blog.  The rest of the contributers are now listed under a column labeled “Past Bloggers.”

Three Down

Of the four classes I am taking this semester (three one-hour classes and one three-hour class), I have finished the work in three.  That means I have just one more class to finish, and I will be done with the semester.  Hopefully I can tidy that up this weekend and finish early.

I expect to earn A’s on my grade report.  I have been able to keep up with my grades online through Blackboard and a separate interface the ITMA program uses for grade reporting and assignment submission (having three different interfaces to work with is clunky and is something I think the program needs to address).  Three of the A’s I expect to earn really don’t mean much to me.  I did a modest amount of work to earn them.  In the case of one class, the assignments were a waste of time.  I can’t say I learned a lot.  In one class, I worked quite hard and feel proud of the A because it was not easy to earn.  I also feel I learned a lot in that class.

You know, I really, really hate grades.  I have been thinking about writing a book about assessment and grades.  Grades are a subject that interest me a great deal.  I hate the fact that grades are what motivates some students to learn — that unless there’s a grade attached, it isn’t worthwhile to some students.  I hate it that I spend a long time on feedback and some students turn to the grade and ask why did I get this? instead of reading the feedback, which would make the grade clear.

I really like working with my students, and it’s so exciting when I can tell they’re truly interested in something, and they want to learn it for the sake of learning it.  I find it frustrating that no matter how engaging my lessons might be (not every day, probably, but I hope they are most of the time) that some students will never be motivated by anything other than a grade.

A colleague of mine once described grades as both the carrot and the stick, and truer words were never spoken.  We use grades to punish kids who don’t do the work, and to reward those who do, even if they are only doing it for the grade.  I wonder what school would look like without grades.  I know it’s possible.  I know schools have done it.

I don’t know what made me go off on that rant.  I suppose I feel frustrated by my own school experience.  I have four A’s.  I worked to earn one of those A’s.  I didn’t learn much.  The grade doesn’t feel like much of a reward.  I’d rather have learned a lot.  For what it’s worth, I hear the program gets better.  Here’s hoping.  I am taking Principles of Instructional Design, Instructional Media, and Digital Audio next semester.