Sunday, January 3, 2010

Inspired by Dan Pink's Drive

On my last day of winter break, I am working my way through Dan Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. So far, I am just not blown away to the extent that I was with A Whole New Mind, but I'm still finding plenty of motivational nuggets.

I started thinking about the concept of "20% time" that's been most publicized by its implementation at Google -- where employees are permitted to spend 20% of their time at work on a project of their own choosing. The idea is that with autonomy and motivation, people can produce the kind of work that is above and beyond what they do during a "normal" workday.  This all sounds great when you're working with adults, but how could the same idea be implemented in a school setting, particularly at the elementary level? It's a little trickier! 

My thoughts: the 20% thing really wouldn't fly with the way most schools are required to be managed today, but what if we designate a day (or even half-day) for the kids to work on projects completely of their own choosing and then present/post whatever they create? I know that in the typical business model, the independent time is NOT used as a reward, but in a school setting, it might make sense to have it be something the kids work towards. It would certainly be a more useful reward than a pizza party or movie day. Many teachers seem to go with the idea that the kids need to decompress after tasks like testing, but that's a lot of time wasted over the course of a year...maybe instead of decompression time, they just need a different kind of challenge to get them going again? The more I write, the more I TOTALLY want to try this and see what the kids could come up with when pretty much their only direction is to learn and create....

A few other quotes I found useful:
"Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others -- sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on -- can sometimes have dangerous side effects." p. 50

"In environments where extrinsic rewards are most salient, many people work only to the point that triggers the reward -- and no further. So if students get a prize for reading three books, many won't pick up a fourth, let alone embark on a lifetime of reading..." p. 58

"'When people aren't producing, companies typically resort to rewards or punishment. What you haven't done is the hard work of diagnosing what the problem is. You're trying to run over the problem with a carrot or a stick,' Ryan explains." p. 72

More to contemplate as I keep reading, I'm sure...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hidenwood Students Go Green!

Our fifth grade students will be running a new recycling program at Hidenwood Elementary this spring. Their teacher, Brian Lieberman, received a grant from the Kids In Need Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding creative, innovative learning projects. The students will distribute recycling bins around the school and will take responsibility for the collection of these materials. This will be the start of an exciting project-based authentic learning experience, during which students will not only study science and social studies, but also develop personal, social, and civil responsibility.

The project has already begun to bring students together. To get the project underway, students visited classrooms throughout the school to distribute recycling bins. After outlining the program, they fielded questions from their fellow students. I was so impressed with how confident and competent they sounded! Of course, our students could not contain their enthusiasm to join the project, and began collecting materials as soon as the bins were delivered. Thanks to the hard work of Mr. Lieberman and his students, Hidenwood Elementary will soon be a cleaner, greener place!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Diigo Webslides

I am presenting at the VEMA Spring Regional York Conference this week and am playing around with Diigo Webslides as a way of sharing the links for my presentation.

Problems so far:
  • I'm not thrilled about the fact that everything is a cached version of the website. I am having trouble adding any Google applications to the slideshow -- they all show some message about the website timing out.
  • I wish there were an easier way to rearrange the slides than going back into your Diigo list and clicking "move to top" or "move up." Drag and drop, please!
  • YouTube video will not display.
I feel confident that the capability exists to create the tool I want, but I have yet to find it! I tried Flowgram and loved the set-up and options, but found it slow and unreliable. I also tried creating a stack in SearchMe, but could not find a way to drag and drop to rearrange slides had trouble finding the itty bitty button that lets you change the slide number order. I still think drag-and-drop functionality would be useful, too!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lost Generation Video

LinkMy principal sent me this awesome video YouTube video posted by metroamv. It placed second in the AARP U@50 video contest. It is a very powerful message, but also opens up all kinds of ideas for writing!