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Blogging For My License

Here in Virginia, and probably in every other state, those of us with a teaching license must file for a renewal on a regular basis.

Mine expires this summer but our overly-large school district wants the paperwork by April and this weekend I’m going against my usual procrastinating nature to get it done early.

The process involves presenting to my boss evidence that I’ve completed a certain number of hours of professional development activities that will, according to the state manual, “update [my] professional knowledge and skills”.

Among the activities specifically listed in the state manual, as you might expect, are taking formal classes, attending and presenting at professional conferences, getting published, and other examples of the usual academic undertakings.

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Although I’ve accumulated more than enough of that traditional stuff over the past five years, I thought this time around it might be fun to push things a little and see just how committed the folks running our educational system are to all their talk about “21st century skills”.

I plan to submit the time I’ve spent writing this blog for credit as one of my professional development activities.

While some of the stuff posted here didn’t require a lot of work (much less thought), many of the entries have incorporated plenty of reading and research, discussions with colleagues, reflections on my own ideas and those of others, and lots of writing and rewriting.

The same kinds of activities expected in a formal academic setting.

More importantly for me, however, are the many, many connections I’ve made as a direct consequence of this blog being out on the open web.

A PLN that updates my knowledge and skills (professional and otherwise) every day and which is larger than any that could be created through the traditional activities outlined by the state.

Ok, so maybe this rantfest isn’t what someone in the Virginia Department of Education was thinking of when they created the rules for our license renewal process.

Or when they wrote “One of the most vital qualities of all professionals is the commitment to continuous learning and growth in knowledge and skill.” for the opening line of the Virginia License Renewal Manual.

But that concept of “continuous learning and growth” is exactly one major reason why I write this blog and why it will be included in my paperwork along with an assortment of normal, expected, point-generating activities.

And, just so our state Secretary of Education has plenty of advanced notice, next time my license comes up for renewal, I’ll be submitting my Twitter feed. :-)


Photograph by woody1778, used under a Creative Commons license.

Looking for the Hows and Whys

In her continuing struggle with the Algebra II class that she’s taking this year, Post staff writer Michael Alison Chandler blogs about her quiz last week.

The topic was solving systems of linear equations and while she thinks she understands the process of doing matrix arithmetic, Chandler is confused about other factors.

It’s difficult to describe how or why math works. It’s easier to just write the formula and say, “Do this.” Several readers have commented on this blog that what’s often missing from math education is more of a focus on why certain applications work. I agree. It’s harder to remember what to do, if you don’t have some sense of why it works.

Knowing why the formula works would be excellent, although Chandler is probably in the minority among high school Algebra II students in wanting to move beyond the basic mechanics of getting the task done.

However, even more important would be if she and the rest of her class were learning how people actually use this process to solve real problems.

EduBloggerCon Reflections

I’m having some mixed feelings about the “unconference” yesterday.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the day. I got the chance to reconnect in real space with people who I mostly know from their online personality.

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And I always enjoy meeting and hearing from lots of voices that are new to me.

However, I came away with something of an empty feeling.

For an “unconference” this felt more like an actual extension of NECC, at least compared to last year and possibly to my unreasonable expectations.

For one thing, the breakout groups were too large which turned what should have been conversations into something more like panel discussions, several featuring many of the same folks who are already presenting here at NECC.

And while most of the discussions were interesting, they also had a deja vu quality to them.

Didn’t we talk about this stuff last year? And the year before? Not to mention in many places online in the interim?

Ok, so maybe I’m being picky. After reading the notes and watching the videos from others, I may just find that I’m way off base and it was much better than these first reflections.

Off to do tourist stuff!

Educon 2.0

Chris has posted the agenda and list of conversations for Educon 2.0 coming up in January at his school, the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

And James Farmer’s opinion notwithstanding, it looks to be an interesting two days of discussions about education and where we can and should be leading (pushing?) schools in the future.

If you’re close to Philadelphia, and can spare the time, come be a part of the conversations.

educon, edubloggercon, philadelphia

Just a Few Complaints

Doug, an edublogger from the UK, has eight things about edublogs that irritate him.

Let’s see how many of his hot buttons I manage to hit around here.

1. Post anonymously or who don’t give their full names.

Well, I don’t spread it around but if you look on the About page, my name and more info is easy to find. However, I can understand why some people, especially teachers don’t want to use their real names.

2. Big themselves up too much.

Not sure what the threshold is for “bigging up” ones self, so I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether that happens here.

3. Post about everything to do with their lives in one place (personal photos, education stuff, geeky stuff – I do try to separate my life into different spheres…)

This would depend on how interesting your personal life is. Most of mine isn’t worth the electrons.

4. Are too far removed from the classroom.

I work hard to stay close but there’s no denying the fact that it’s not where I work on a daily basis.

5. Insist on sharing their del.icio.us links as an actual blog post every day.

I don’t mind this as Doug seems to. As for my del.icio.us account, the link is at the bottom of the right column. Visit it if you want to.

6. Post too much (which usually means their posts lack depth and thought)

For some I could complain about posting too little. But that’s what RSS is for: the ability to quickly pick and choose what you want to read.

7. Don’t syndicate the whole of their RSS feed, forcing me to visit their blog to read the whole story (thus negating the point of RSS…)

Uh, ok. I fixed that problem as a part of my post NECC homework.

8. Just put up transcripts of conversations they’ve had without pointing out the significance of comments, or who just randomly stick up their live blogging notes from a conference (there’s other tools for the latter)

I’m lousy at live blogging so you won’t be seeing that around here.

I can’t say that any of these items rises to the level of an irritant for me. Maybe I’ve been doing a good job of selecting the edubloggers I want to read.

[Thanks to Stephen for the link.]

edublogging, complaints

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