Sunday, January 24, 2010

Visiting Petakh Tikvah

I finally visited a school last week!  I joined a group of educators from MOFET on their visit to Da'at Mevinim, a private religious school in Petakh Tikvah.  A bit of background is in order.  For those in Oregon, Petakh Tikvah has a population density of 12,000 people/sq mi.  Portland's density is 4200 people/sq mi and Oregon has a density of 36 people/sq mi.  That is not a typo.  36 people per square mile!  Petakh Tikvah is really a suburb of Tel Aviv, but for political reasons, Tel Aviv is not allowed to expand its city boundary to include its suburbs.  This allows Israel to claim Jerusalem as its largest city......As Bill Cosby says in the Noah sketches, "Right."  Click on the link to find out more about the city.  Let's just say that when I told my Jerusalem friends I had spent the day there, they asked if I had run out of charming places to visit in Israel.  The school itself has been the subject of some bad press, too.  Turns out there is a bit of a problem in Israel with schools admitting and then teaching Ethiopian students.  Back to Da'at Mavinim.  We were there because this school is a leader in integrating computers into various subjects.  The principal began the integration the same way so many schools have started using tech tools.  She issued every teacher a NetBook.  Now, my wife will tell you that working on a NetBook is fine if you are surfing the net, but not so useful if you are trying to use photos, video, or do more than one task at a time.  For example, just to research and write this blog I have 11 browser tabs open and am running 6 programs.  For school purposes, these Netbooks needed to connect with Moodle, a content management system in wide use throughout many schools in the US.  The teachers must be aware of the Netbook limitations because they were teaching in class using desktop PC machines connected to overhead projectors.  After a presentation by the principal, we set off for the classrooms.  In one classroom, kids were using Annotate, an online annotation program for creating and editing documents collaboratively.  Others were completing drill and practice exercises.  In another space, kids were creating characters using Toondo and Voki.  In an English class, kids had created sentences to describe the character created in Toondo.  They had recorded their voices, too.  Their sentences appeared on the board, kids stop-clicked their mp3 voice files, and their classmates were supposed to be drawing what they heard.  Sort of storyboarding in reverse!  Afterwards, a lively discussion was held among the visiting group.  Everybody was complimentary about what they had seen.  There were a few folks who questioned a bit of the pedagogy.  The idea that kids see "wrong" information and have to figure out it is wrong, then correct it can sometimes have the effect of cementing the "wrong" part into kids brains.  Later, they then have to unlearn the wrong pieces before they can relearn concepts correctly.  While trying to figure out what to say....I really have been practicing listening....I came across a post from Shelley Blake-Plock who writes the Teach Paperless blog (worth reading!)  His most recent post is titled Whale Blubber.  It sums up how I feel about education right now.  We are teaching today as if we had cornered the market on Whale Blubber, and oil has just been discovered.  Here are a couple of pictures .  The rest can be found by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment