Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn

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Learning to Change - Changing to Learn

By Barbara Bray      October 13, 2008 -- 09:34 AM
The keynoter for the pre-conference of K12 Online Conference Stephen Heppell shared this video on YouTube.

Iíve been thinking about this for as long as I can remember. Schools have to change to keep up with our students. They use technology everyday and schools ban that technology. I worked with independent study programs where students who may have been at risk worked at home and had jobs. Once or twice a week they met at school to follow-up with assignments and sometimes to work on projects.I like the idea about using school as the place for teamwork and projects. Letting students collaborate online using: text messaging, cell phones, and social networks. Use school for teachers to collaborate. Thatís what weíre doing in eCoach: providing online private and public spaces for confidential issues and sharing best practices. Also having a place for teachers to co-author projects and not reinvent the wheel. We can do it!    more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By small Barbara Bray  October 15, 2008 -- 10:23 PM

Cross-Age Cross-Curriculum Projects Change Teaching Practice

By Barbara Bray      October 12, 2008 -- 10:21 PM
The K12 Online Conference starts with the Pre-Conference on October 13. Each of the presenters are posting their presentations as podcasts 20 minutes or less. I am presenting the findings as an audio podcast and PowerPoint presentation. The teachers and students did all the work. Pat Lusher and Cecelia Nauda are coordinating the EETT grant and provided data, documents, and other information included in the powerpoint or as separate files below. Nancy Kuznicki and Donna Blanton shared podcasts about the projects. This presentation is on Thursday, October 23 (Day 4).


Throwing Away the Box...   more...
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Come join us at the K12 Online Conference

By Barbara Bray      October 8, 2008 -- 09:28 AM
I created several teasers with different tools and decided on a short video trailer for my presentation at the K12 Online Conference. We were asked to prepare our presentation in a 20 minute downloadable format. What might be the best way is to create a website with downloadable presentations, videos, podcasts, and files.

What is my presentation about?

I have been very lucky to work with some amazing people in Pinellas County Schools, Florida with the EETT grant for cross-age cross-curriculum projects. This meant that 109 teachers and eMentors were going to design and implement six  6 week ...   more...
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Rigorous or difficult?

By Barbara Bray      October 2, 2008 -- 04:24 PM
I have been reviewing online and face-to-face courses to determine effectiveness. One thing I did notice is the amount of busywork and difficult assignments in both cases that really didnít meet the objectivess.

Let's rethink how we deliver our curriculum so we donít just give work to make sure our students are doing something. A difficult course may be one that provides endless activities that may or may not be relevant because the instructor wants to make sure they touch on multiple products or ideas.

Is this because the instructor wants ...   more...
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Are schools ready?

By Barbara Bray      September 1, 2008 -- 08:03 AM
Scott McLeod in his post Dangerously Irrelevant responded to Jeff Utechtís post on preparing our students for the 21st century to be global citizens. Postman & Weingartnerís quote McLeod shared from Teaching as a Subversive Activity is as applicable now as it was in 1969:

What students do in the classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say) . . . Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly, they sit and listen to the teacher. . . . Mostly, they are required to remember. . . . It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what ...   more...

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How about Zenovating?

By Barbara Bray      August 20, 2008 -- 10:46 AM
I haven't been keeping up with my blog. Guess you would say I have taken time to enjoy the summer. Yep! But now it's time to get back and start sharing again. I tried to figure out what innovation means in today's world so I've been doing lots of research and thinking.

Learning is different today than what many of us as teachers thought it was all about. We defined learning as how we teach, what a classroom is supposed to be like, but we didn't define it from the learner's perspective.

All of us are learners. The world is changing and so should what we define as "School". Especially now with information ...   more...
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State of Schools around the US

By Barbara Bray      July 17, 2008 -- 07:23 AM

I live in California and work around the country. I am appalled about the state of education and how we are leaving more children behind then we ever have before. The focus of "No Child Left Behind" was framed so people thought that we were going to fight for all children. Actually, what has happened is that "Every poor, disadvantaged, learning disabled, at-risk, and minority child is left behind." What kind of country is this that we do this to our future. In todayís SF Chronicle, the headline is 24% of high school students will dropout.

Where are they? What are these dropouts doing now? How ...   more...

Comments: 2   Last Comment By small Mrs. Shannon Riek  July 24, 2008 -- 04:56 PM

What does understanding mean to you?

By Barbara Bray      April 26, 2008 -- 08:51 AM
In redefining what learning in the 21st century means, I reflected on what learning means to me. I see each day and moment as a learning opportunity. I just came back from a long walk in a beautiful park where the birds were chirping. It was so peaceful and a great place to reflect. I stopped at a bridge over a lake and stood quiet for ten minutes just looking around and taking everything in.

I saw a colorful male mallard duck with his mate. Some questions popped into my head (even though I already knew some of the answers):
  • Why are male birds more colorful than ...   more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By small Roxanne Clement  April 29, 2008 -- 05:26 PM

Making and Strengthening Connections

By Barbara Bray      March 20, 2008 -- 08:17 AM
David Warlick is presenting today in Arkansas with Pat Wolfe about what's happening inside and outside of the brain. [2 Cents Worth] Wish I was there but next best thing is to follow David's blog. This quote he wrote is great:

 "You donít grow brain cells.  What grows are dendrites, and Dittos donít grow dendrites!"

Pat shared MRIs of an MRI reading of brains when ...   more...
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Saving our Kids

By Barbara Bray      February 21, 2008 -- 07:53 AM
Have you had enough? I listen and cry. What is happening in our urban schools? The dropout rate is higher than ever and these arenít stupid kids. They are smart - street smart but we dump them because they cannot pass the tests. I bet I couldnít have passed the math test when I was in high school. But thatís not the problem. Poor kids are going to be out - trying to get work - without a degree. What can they do? How can we help them?

Will Olkin wrote They Schools in the New York Times today. He quoted a teacher concerned about the status quo and not doing anything that will make a difference:

ďWe ...   more...
Comments: 2   Last Comment By jsteph  February 21, 2008 -- 09:21 AM

What happens when a language dies?

By Barbara Bray      February 11, 2008 -- 09:05 AM
Have you ever heard of the Eyak language? With the death of Marie Smith of Alaska, this aboriginal language has died. With the spread of English and suppression of native languages, more will end.

Chief Marie Smith Jones, the last fluent speaker of the Eyak language of the Alaskan Indians, died in January at her home in Anchorage. She was 89. Chief Jones worked diligently to preserve her native tongue and other indigenous Alaskan languages. She was the last person to have learned the language the traditional way, taught as a child from her parents. A tribute in the SitNews.

Her long-time ...   more...

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Empathy: Making Compassionate Choices

By Barbara Bray      January 12, 2008 -- 08:33 AM
Most of us are so busy that we donít have time to think of another person and their concerns. Do you know how to tune in to another person if you donít have the time? With all that is on our plates and, especially now with all of our technology, we tend to focus on ourselves and our issues. Daniel Golemanís talk Why aren't we all Good Samaritans? from Ted.com made me think about how we learn what we do. Maybe it has alot to do with the choices we make.


Educators, as a service industry, are givers and helpers by nature. We want to make a difference. We want our children to succeed. Teachers tend to only learn what they know or what they learned. In the past six years, our focus has been on increasing student achievement scores in reading and math.

Doesnít it go deeper than that for many of the children at-risk? Children living in poverty have so many more issues to think about:
  • will I eat tonight?
  • will mom come home?
  • why did my brother have to die?
  • how can I understand math when I canít understand what the teachers are saying in English?
Society blames teachers for poor scores or the parents. Can it be more than that? We may be going into a recession and many more middle class children will be in trouble.

What will we do then?

Social networking should be about connecting and sharing. Is it about showing how many friends you have? Are these real friends? I notice on some of these sites that it is more about who connects to you, who you know. I joined Facebook when I saw you could add causes. However, very few people give.

How do we bring back compassion and really share, help, give? So some questions:
  • How do we help teachers design curriculum that builds compassionate citizens?
  • How do we encourage teachers to share and open their classroom doors?
  • How do we build community service into all grade levels?
   more...
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Framing Change: providing a place and time to wonder

By Barbara Bray      October 29, 2007 -- 09:21 AM
Ben Wilkoff, a 7th/8th grade Language Arts teacher at Cresthill Middle School in Colorado presented Obstacles to Opportunities ďStarting From Scratch: Framing Change for All StakeholdersĒ presented at the K12 Online Conference. Ben designed a school model called The Academy of Discovery.

He shares about framing change for schools, teachers, students, administrators, and parents. If you think of school in its present form, then the thought of any change is monumental and overwhelming. He explains very clearly that you need a new framework of pedagogy and his focus at Cresthill is a singular concept ...   more...
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What will learning look like in the future?

By Barbara Bray      October 3, 2007 -- 07:59 AM
I was very lucky to be invited to participate in the first convening of Innovation for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation with a very prestigious group of people from around the country. One of the goals for this convening was to develop a new vision for Professional Learning Communities in the future. The questions that kept popping up was about the future of teaching and learning.

One article we read was Why Teacher Networks (Can) Work by Tricia Niesz from Phi Delta Kappan where she talks about Communities of practice in which learning and teaching are interwoven in social networks, and someday ...   more...
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Blogging about Yourself

By Barbara Bray      September 25, 2007 -- 09:14 AM
Konrad Glogowski shared a post "Learning to be Myself" on his blog of proximal development that I recommend teachers to read who want to blog with their students. He starts out "If education is essentially a social process, then the teacher needs to be part of the learning community, not only as its facilitator but also as one of its members."

The blog he uses with his 8th grade students is all about him and how he relates to the curriculum. The title is not just his name but something catchy and he thought about for some time. He created an avatar and description that represents him and  ...   more...
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What would you do?

By Barbara Bray      August 26, 2007 -- 11:29 AM
If you had a problem like this, how would your students handle it? Multiple choice question or authentic tasks?

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