Sunday, August 31, 2014

A SOLE Response

Teachers are interesting creatures of habit. They adapt thoughts and ideas to suit the needs of their students but really to test further ideas of their own. They often do so within the safe confines of their school not pushing outside the box very far. They don’t want to be seen as the rebel or the outsider. Conformity is an issue. So it is no surprise that many have used their adaptation of SOLE to their understanding of teaching. Why would they not? It has been a mainstream of education for years in their eyes. It is Project Based Learning turned sideways..

Those who see it and use it view it as a Project Based Learning concept that allows them to take a small step further by allowing the students limited autonomy. They adopt it without all the intentions and benefits it brings because as teachers they need to adapt it to their way of teaching. That is they need to apply it to extend the curriculum rather than expanding the knowledge of children. They do not understand the basic premise of SOLE, to give children the right to pursue their thoughts and interests. Throughout history it is this exploration of these thoughts and interests that has provided some of the greatest inventions. Do you think a wheel would have been invented without this type of exploration? Exploration is an evolutionary process that the brain understands. It cannot be confined to rooms and books with eloquent explanations. It is the use of the mind to explore and develop theories that develops the reasoning and thinking skills. As a teacher I can try to teach it all I want but without the actual experience developed through their interests students cannot learn. They do not own the experience when they are led by the hand through it. Recently I was at the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. I stood for a long time reading and listening to people explain about the trial and error that went into developing their product. These were 18 and 19 year old boys exploring their ideas. It explained how when they reached an issue they could not solve someone would join them or they would ask someone questions to understand it better. There was no Internet so they relied on the experiences of others. That is what the essence of SOLE is about. Encouraging the mind through exploration.

I find it hard to develop some aspects of SOLE as I have to teach curriculum. The growing realization that a combination of asking the right questions and providing some important background knowledge is essential. I put it out there for the students to develop. We discuss the curriculum and what they are expected to know and be able to demonstrate. Then they explore. It is how I see it occurring in a school.

I also allow them to perform SOLE as it was intended, to follow their own ideas and interests, to control their environment and develop the relationships necessary to be successful. In short I give up control and cede freedom for them to learn. Some would assert that I am being negligent in my duties as a teacher. I counter with every child in my class was reading at Grade level to well above Grade level. My behaviour problems became minimal. Their confidence and belief in each other soared. They would pose and rephrase questions even while they asked it to me.

One benefit of all this hard work was evident this year. School hasn't even started yet and it is paying off. I cleared two thirds of the desks out of my portable. I have three long tables that are pushed against the wall. My Principal informed me that the desks had to remain in the portable because it was Board Policy. I countered with I believed in SOLE and was able to prove that it worked and was far more successful than people believed. I read about how students don’t need desks to learn. I want to try it. He conceded because of my success. I am not sure how the French teacher will feel about it but that is small issue. But every little success begets more success.

I know that Sugata Mitra has strong convictions about his work. He wants it to be followed as it is and as he developed it. And it is important that we respect this because at its core SOLE is everything a child needs to grow and mature. But we live in a society whose understanding of education is rigidly entrenched in past practices. SOLE, step by step takes us past these past practices into new ways of learning. It is successful because the students believe in it and the freedom it gives them. The same freedom that developed thousands of years ago and has been whittled down to obedience by well meaning and misguided people. Time to encourage students to be who they are. It is already inside them. Let it grow.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Google Hangout SOLE Presentation Bitcoin

Raven, Alex and Kane researched Bitcoin using the SOLE method. In this video they present their information for you to learn about Bitcoin.
SOLE is starting to take off worldwide. Andrew Greig has been in Costa Rica recently meeting with Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora to discuss plans for SOLE and Google to work with the Ministry and teachers to help raise both the education level of students and their standard of living.  The Government of Costa Rica has been very receptive to the discussions and is looking at beginning a pilot project to see how it works. Andrew has been approached by people outside of The Education Ministry who have private schools or other interests similar to ours that want to be a part of what we are doing. Some of the people are related to Nobel Prize winners. He has been constantly blitzed by the media there about our work. Andrew is the founder of Vizzeco, a Google Apps Reseller.

SOLE stands for Self Organized Learning Environments.  The SOLE Vizzeco is promoting is based on the work of Dr. Sugata Mitra. In a SOLE

1.      The students develop a question about a topic or topics of interest to them.
2.      They gather in groups of four around a question.
3.      With one laptop they research their question for forty minutes
4.      They write up their information in paragraph form.
5.      They decide on a presentation style and present their information to the rest of the group.

Vizzeco envisions many spin offs to working through a SOLE. Among the ideas being considered are Vizzeco would like to:

  1. Introduce SOLE in school environments, especially for 10 – 15 year olds. It will work with older students as well. SOLE will improve student reading levels and help maintain a higher standard of work in the class.
  2. Have students participating involved in Google School where the students would learn about all the applications that Google has and be able to help others understand these applications and how they work. 
  3. Have students learn about providing a self-sustaining healthy diet to improve their daily lives.
  4. Encourage students to have the entrepreneurial spirit.

As the project evolves other nations will be brought on board to develop their understanding of SOLE and how their students will benefit from it.

This is indeed an exciting time to be in education.

Friday, August 22, 2014

From Today in Costa Rica

Google intends to take lessons in MEP Home

Schoogle Project could enter the classroom

"We want to help reduce the carbon footprint; by lowering trafficking towards education centers or expenditures made in a classroom or class, with air conditioning, computers and lights for education, what Google did was achieve 98% reduction in the impact This index, "Murray said.
Tuesday August 19, 2014
By: Johanna Castillo Mora
The technology giant has its eye on Costa Rica, specifically in their natural wealth and education. Andrew Greig, of Google Apps, and Gerald Murray, PR manager for Android, met with the Minister of Education, Sonia Marta Mora, to propose the lessons at home and lower the carbon making the move to the school, all Schoogle this through.

"We want to help reduce the carbon footprint; by lowering trafficking towards education centers or expenditures made in a classroom or class, with air conditioning, computers and lights for education, what Google did was achieve 98% reduction in the impact This index, "Murray said. According to Greig, the application is free and can be implemented in public and private schools. Besides protecting the environment, "the years of education will drop from 16 to 13" numbers that countries already joined this initiative.

Meanwhile, Mora gives nod to this first meeting they had with Google, as this would help keep students in schools, lowering the dropout rate and the possibility that, for reasons of force majeure, can not attend classes.

"In Costa Rica we are struggling to keep children and young people in schools. What I find very encouraging is that these options so that, for health reasons, if they can not attend school, participate with cloud services and innovations they are doing and keep in touch with their lessons and doing homework "said the Minister.

Google and MEP began talks and expect a second meeting and put proposals for the initiative. For now there are only three schools with this application, the names are still unknown.

SOLE Meets the Costa Rican Minister of Education

Google seeks rapprochement with MEP to run application in schools and colleges

Google representatives met this afternoon with the hierarch of the MEP to expose application projects in schools and colleges.  CRH.
Google representatives met this afternoon with the hierarch MEP Sonia Marta Mora to expose application projects in schools and colleges. CRH.
Representatives of the company that develops applications for Vizzico Google met with Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora to implement different apps for schools and colleges for free.
Applications are focused on education from different areas highlighting the reduction of carbon footprint, through a technological interaction between different students through cloud connectivity.
Google + allows students from public and private schools to create awareness on environmental protection and other issues, as well as re sexiest education system and avoid abandonment of classes.
According to Andrew Greig, representative of the development firm App for Google, confirmed that in the countries where it is implemented, the results have been satisfactory and allows the reduction of the number of 16 years of study on three different topics.
Through applications, students develop skills that receive the same quality of teachers will also be possible to form part of college project that Google plans to create a future.
"The apps not only allow young approach to education but gives them tools to create more knowledge and develop options to innovate in the way they learn," said Greig.
According to Sonia Marta Mora, hierarch of the MEP, this initiative seeks to apply more dynamic self-learning technology tools that excites most young children and be in class.
"This approach allows Google to know the interest they have to work in Costa Rica for talent, what seems to us an innovative opportunity for the education system," said the minister.
He also reiterated that the possible joint work will be analyzed to determine the feasibility of implementing the proposal for the adoption of technology applications dedicated to education.
Mora reaffirmed that could begin to negotiate the implementation of a pilot project.
Written by Fabio Mena | | See all my news

Google and SOLE are investing in Costa Rican Education

Google raises the country develop apps to avoid attrition and promote carbon neutrality

Project aims to encourage the use of Google platforms in public schools

The application developer Vizzico Googleproposed the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) , a development application to combat school dropout and reduce carbon emissions in the country in the coming years.
The barely initiative within the first dialogue-intended for students in primary and secondary run online projects at the same time share with people from other countries through the netGoogle+ .
The proposal consists of three complementary projects, one to develop learning and innovation through online contests that take place in social networks.
These initiatives are rewarded financially and serve to prevent students leaving the classroom, and can enhance the talent of young people making the search for solutions to social problems.
The second phase consists of an application in which students participate in the reduction of carbon emissions is related to the country's 2021 goal.
The latest proposal of the project is to develop pilot programs in poor urban schools to bring technology to those areas and combat attrition.

SOLE in Costa Rica!


Google seeks alliance with MEP to provide virtual classes

San Jose
Company representatives seek to insert Google technology in Costa Rican classrooms, in order to motivate the use of videoconferencing to teach lessons.
Responsible for application developers of Google, Andrew Greig, said it is necessary to create public-private partnerships to increase the use of technology by children and youth.
"This can become a tool to motivate the use of technologies in all social strata," Greig said.
The company also wants students to be able to create applications that they can sell to the company.
"There are three lines of action: create applications to sell, make classes more interactive and promote tools that are friendly to the environment," said the representative of Google in Costa Rica, Gerald Murray.
Education Minister, Sonia Marta Mora said that you stimulate learning tools.
"We think this audience an opportunity to discuss these innovative opportunities., We are interested in the use of information technologies. This is not to equip the schools, but to generate proposals for better use," Mora said the minister.
The MEP Google asked the company to put the proposal on paper may be assessed at a second meeting and subsequent implementation in Costa Rican classrooms.
To begin, the MEP work through a pilot scheme on the subject. Google said that there are three private institutions in the country to develop such technologies.
On the futuristic idea of ​​teaching from the house, the minister noted that the ways of learning will change in the coming years and that in the short or medium term, if a child health problems can not go to classes, should be helped to access technology to keep up with the content.
"On trips by schools, we realize that for education and discourses are attractive, it is important to link with the technology," said the minister.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SOLE Hangout August 6 2014

SOLE expands the minds of kids. It build reading and writing skills, presentation skills, group skills. Here is today's SOLE session.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Real Problem In Education

This summer I have been hearing quite a bit about Tenure in education. It has been all over Twitter with those in the Twitterverse discussing it`s merit and demerits. As a Canadian I didn't pay much attention to it as I saw it as an American problem.  Famous people talking about how this will solve the educational problem. But with more and more tweets it became clear that it is a smokescreen.This got my attention and as an educator I decided I couldn't sit out this discussion.  And frankly it is a smokescreen. They are babbling about such an insignificant piece of the educational pie that I had to laugh. As if teacher tenure is going to solve the issues facing education. It is not even close to touching the base of the problem.

Education lives in a world where everyone thinks they know what is going on and what the problems are. And they blame teachers. With that simple fact, they blame teachers lies the heart of the issue. How do you expect your children and teachers to work in a positive environment when they are constantly bombarded with how  horrible education is, how it is in a state of decay, how it is not measuring up. School is a hostile place because of the negativity it is given through the press and by famous people who care but have not the time to root out the basic problem. They are part of the problem. Lighten up people. There are as many as 95% and possibly higher of the teachers out there who are doing a terrific job. Give them support and encouragement and that number would climb.

No people there are some serious issues around education. Studies show that home life has a direct influence on how students learn. If a child is not getting enough sleep they cannot focus in class. If there is fighting, arguing, hostility in the home it creates a negative atmosphere which affects how students learn. If there is not enough food in the home or not enough of the right foods it can affect students learning. This comes down to two main issues: poverty and knowledge about childhood development.

Poverty is an age old issue. People have been poor since the beginning of time. We all know the stereotypes. We all have said it is someone else`s problem. Really it is not. It stares teachers in the face everyday. It stares your children in the face everyday. There are students in every public  school anywhere in the world who come from an impoverished home. Time to face it. Some of the children who are your child's friends are poor. The best toys they may ever play with are in your house. Some of the best meals they may eat this week are in your house. Some of the warmest environments they come into contact with are in your house. We don't want to acknowledge it but that is the truth.But why is this? What is it about their homes that cause this to be true. There are many disfunctional homes out there. Why? Poverty, a lack of a sense of fulfillment, a low self esteem because of the economic situation, all have an affect.  I wonder how many self sustaining jobs a billion dollars could create? I wonder if we went to poor neighbourhoods and created jobs specific to their neighbourhood how much their spirits would be lifted and success be felt? I wonder how many children would be lifted to do better things and create a better life. I wonder if all the do gooders out there put their minds together they could solve this problem. People tell me it is complicated, that there are no easy solutions. My answer is we have to start somewhere. Building self esteem works wonders.

Childhood development is one of the most misunderstood terms in the history of man. Everyone has their own perspective on it and are even partially right in how they look at it. But do they realize their words have a great affect on a child? One word negatively can cause a divide. Children carry these things with them day in and day out creating a mental stress. It is tough to get out of that frame of mind. When they get to school they still carry it. In the middle of that Math lesson they are thinking “Why did that happen?” They lost the days teaching and missed the concept. We need to create positive home lives for children. We need to create an environment in the home where they feel loved and trusted and that they can succeed. We need to start feeding them the right foods so their bodies and minds  can develop to their potential. Ban anything that is not from a garden. Yes eating their veggies is good for them. They won’t eat it? They won’t starve. It goes against human nature. With nothing but healthy food in the house they will learn to eat healthily.

It is time to start talking about the real issues facing education. Solving the poverty issue and promoting healthy childhood development is where we need to start. Then we can look into the classrooms and start improving in that direction. Because without solving the poverty and promoting healthy childhood development education will not improve one iota from where it is now. It has to start with the children.

I challenge Bill Gates, Campbell Brown and all the other people who care about education to help solve these issues for all our children, every last one of them. I know we can do it.