During teaching in J-Term I asked kids to write a letter to the President. In one of them, a kid turned me onto this song by the artist Propaganda: "Board of Education." I love it. And, yes, I know he is talking to me.
At about 2:45 in the morning of Sunday the 25th of January, our family welcomed Lucille Marie Bathon into the world. We will call her Lucy most of the time ... and, yes, I Love Lucy (we know, and we sort of like it). Lucy is big and strong at 7 lbs. 15 ounces and 20.5 inches. She has a strong voice and her own personality already in that she is not afraid to tell you when she doesn't like something. So far, everything with this pregnancy and delivery has been smooth. After our time in the NICU with Matthew and the twins, it is lovely having a bit of a smoother ride this time. We would appreciate any hopes or prayers to have it last.
We will post pictures in sort of an ongoing manner here over the next couple days if you want to check back. You can also keep up with some of the photos at my flickr feed.
Today, in my citizenship lab course at STEAM, we took a deep dive in student voice. So much so that two sophomore students used their voice to help teach the class.
We talked about how students can contribute more at STEAM. We talked about what is and is not working well at STEAM. We talked about how to build better systems of including student voice into our work. It was a wonderful conversation.
Then, students wrote a letter to the editor (of STEAM). We want real, honest feedback from them. Not all of it is positive. In fact most of the feedback is likely to be negative. One student said, "I can't get it all into less than 2 pages." That's fine. It is all data. It is all user feedback. As Elon Musk has said, the negative feedback is the most valuable because it helps you understand how to make your product or experience better. It take courage to listen, but it is core to getting better.
The point is, students have a lot to say. They absolutely do and they are substantially more serious than most adults are willing to give them credit for. I've always loved this video from top education reporter Amanda Ripley where she had the insight that the humans that know the most about the education system at any given moment are the students in it. We need to leverage that knowledge not only because it can make our schools better, but because it is the right way to treat our children.
I was seriously blown away by this work by students from Kansas State University. It strikes me as the perfect example of student work that translates and stands on its own as Art. This is the gold standard of what our project based learning and media projects should be approaching in schools.
Enjoy. I know I did.
Now a days it is popular to question technology in schools as potentially counter-productive or an unnecessary expenditure if classrooms do not change along with the new tools. I've made this argument myself and I'm actively counseling superintendents to consider the best use of funds if their intention is to only drop devices in the building, not reform the classrooms.
But, make no mistake, it is better a kid have access to the Internet than not, including (and especially) in the classroom. There is a great deal of value simply in access as there was a great deal of value maintaining school libraries even though most kids didn't bother with it in a serious way.
This, I think, makes my point well:
This image has been passed around a lot w/ a desired effect of saying we don't trust teachers anymore.
There is perhaps some truth in that, but honestly, if all a teacher/school sent home to me was a single letter grade with little additional data, I would be angry too. Know how we turn the tables back around? Give parents all the data on why their kid is not meeting expectations. Instead of just a "D" show them the exact standards where they are not proficient, show them measures and examples of poor work habits, link to student work product in portfolios. Undoubtedly, some parents will still fault the school or teacher, but many, many fewer and it would go a very, very long way to restoring whatever trust has been lost in our teachers and schools (and hopefully pull back on some of these ridiculous tests). Thus, I don't think the problem in this image is what you think ... I think it is more the paper than the parents.
My Aunt Elsie Campbell was a master quilter. During her life she quilted easily hundreds of unique quilts, each a creative artistic expression (my guess is probably around 500 - she said she had lost count). She made a quilt to celebrate most large events in life such as weddings or the birth of a new child. She was also an extremely efficient quilter and during a large part of her life she maintained a goal of completing a quilt every two weeks. Many, many people in Southern Illinois paid Elsie to add to their lives and her artwork is still on display all over beds in this part of the world. It is an impressive legacy.
These are 40 quilts that were auctioned off this past weekend. They brought between $100-$300 each, depending on the quality, condition, and design, and many buyers came to the auction just to bid on the quilts. Of course, she also quilted pillows, wall hangings, baby quilts, and other cloth crafts.
Elsie's quilting legacy is representative of a generation of folk-art crafts people who made art a regular part of not only their life, but of those around them as well. They brought happiness to generations, as Elsie did for us, and it is an honor for me to display Elsie's work here on this blog as a small tribute to a lifetime of work and joy for a remarkable lady.