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Appendix Technology Permission Slip

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Often, teachers and administrators feel uncomfortable about introducing digital tools to students because of Internet safety risks that are widely reported in the media. These fears are completely understandable! In fact, moving forward with digital projects before articulating specific actions that parents, teachers, and students should take to keep safe online would be nothing short of irresponsible. Teaching students strategies for self-protection is a basic requirement for any educator interested in using digital tools to facilitate instruction.

This document outlines both the reasons that digital tools should play a larger role in classroom instruction and the behaviors expected of parents, teachers, and students in 21st century classrooms. It can be used as a permission slip to generate commitment to Internet safety before digital projects are started.

Dear Parents,

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing parents and teachers is preparing students for a future that is rapidly changing yet poorly defined. New content and information is constantly being created, new partnerships developed across global boundaries are becoming commonplace, and new tools are connecting workers who once would have remained isolated.

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Chapter Five Exploring Collaborative Problem Solving

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

For the students involved in Michael Furdyk’s DeforestACTION initiative (http://dfa.tigweb.org)—an extension of Microsoft’s Asia Pacific Partners in Learning Program designed to empower learners to “take control of the planet that they will inherit” by fighting back against global deforestation—learning is anything but traditional. Instead of working on isolated lessons with small handfuls of individual classmates, participants are mastering required curricular objectives while simultaneously wrestling with a complex real-world problem—a practice that educational expert Michael Fullan (2013) describes as an example of meaningful pedagogy in action:

Over 80,000 students from more than 60 countries are developing as global citizens by collaborating to solve global problems; reviewing and evaluating the causes, impact and politics of deforestation at the local and global levels; analyzing, planning, and organizing by using collaborative technology; preparing and implementing action plans by engaging in interactive activities; and taking part in valuable conversations with peers and mentors. (p. 50)

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Chapter 4: Making School Different

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 4

Making School Different

Like every educator, I care deeply about the kids who roll through the door of my classroom each day. They are at once funny, creative, determined, and hopeful—and they serve as a constant reminder that learning is an inherently joyful act worthy of celebration. But for many years, there has been little worth celebrating in our schools. Instead, we’ve let coercive policies designed to “hold schools accountable” completely destroy our learning spaces. Our classrooms have moved from places of discovery and inspiration to places driven by mastery and memorization. Schooling really has become a distant cousin to learning.

In many ways, even I am ashamed of what my classroom has become. The strain of balancing what I know matters the most for my students with the need to produce results on simplistic (yet essential) end-of-grade exams has left me professionally broken. And as the stakes get higher—like many states, North Carolina’s legislature has moved to tie employment, evaluation, and compensation decisions directly to the scores students produce on end-of-grade exams (Hui, 2013)—I catch myself making more and more questionable instructional choices. It is difficult to find time to let my students wonder, explore, and question when I am held accountable for little more than their ability to remember and recite.

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Chapter 1

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press PDF

Chapter 1

Where Am I Going?

All too often, teachers use the terms grading and feedback interchangeably. We convince ourselves that any information we give students—letter grades on reports, number grades on quizzes, or written comments on projects—counts equally as forms of valuable feedback. The truth, however, is that grading and feedback are different practices serving different purposes and having different impacts on learners.

Grades communicate how well a student’s work measures up against a teacher’s expectations. Often given only after a student completes an assignment, grades rarely promote growth in learners. In fact, grades rarely even report growth. Instead, they boil down product, process, and progress indicators into one ambiguous number or letter (Guskey, 2009). The result is that students have no clue whether the grades they are earning are a reflection of the quality of the content they have created, the effort they invested into the task, or the fact that their final pieces were better than they expected.

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Chapter 2: Microlending as an Example of Doing Work That Matters

William M. Ferriter Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 2

Microlending as an Example of Doing Work That Matters

My efforts to give students opportunities to change the world for the better began at the breakfast table on Christmas Day in 2008. My family wasn’t awake, so I was sifting through my Twitter stream, checking up on my digital friends. Hiding in a surprisingly long list of warm holiday messages was a 140-character invitation from Karl Fisch (@karlfisch) to join a new Kiva lending team that he had decided to start. Not knowing a thing about Kiva (www.kiva.org)—a website that pairs willing lenders in the developed world with people trying to improve their lives in the developing world—I clicked through to Karl’s blog to learn more.

Karl’s charge was a simple one. He asked his followers to lend twenty-five dollars to an entrepreneur in a poor country and to purchase two twenty-five-dollar Kiva gift certificates to pass on to members of their own learning networks (Fisch, 2008). Knowing that I wanted to help, I took Karl up on his challenge, lending one hundred dollars to a group of women in Bolivia who wanted to start small businesses selling groceries. And I felt remarkable. Not only had I helped struggling families living halfway around the world with nothing more than a simple click, I’d joined a team of like-minded individuals who cared about global poverty.

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