DSISD Commons #7

In this one…

  • Inclusive, connected cultures
  • Segregation, isolation, and compliance
  • Consent in ed.
  • Hyperactivity and postponing kindergarten
  • Structural ideology, systems thinking, and the three tier caste system
  • Progressive, connected education
  • Neurodiversity inclusion and class size
  • The Open Schoolhouse
  • Typing > handwriting, plain text editors
  • Open by default
  • Respectful parenting
  • Diversity and inclusion resources

Inclusive, connected cultures

Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.

There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.

Source: Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with ‘topics’ as country reforms its education system | The Independent

Segregation and isolation are reflexes of compliance culture

Renay Ferguson, whose 10-year old son has ADHD, gave The Seattle Times school records that show her son was placed in isolation 148 times in the span of two years at two different elementary schools. Each isolation incident ranged from two minutes to three hours, the records show.

Ferguson’s son felt like he was “going to die” when he was in the Rose Hill Elementary isolation room in Kirkland, and he would take off his clothes to relieve the feeling of suffocation, he reported to his mother and doctor.

While in the isolation room April 18, Ferguson’s son banged his head against the door and tied his shoelaces around his wrist and neck, according to district records. He suffered a concussion that day, according to a report from his doctor.

Source: Special-ed student confined 617 times in 6 months despite state laws | The Seattle Times

Consent in ed.

Within schooling, no consent is sought, in fact mainstream schooling requires that intellectual or educational consent (which term is best I am not yet sure) is not sought. It is a system that is coercion dependent, and it uses an infrastructure of punishment and reward to facilitate and reinforce the coercive environment.

Source: Consent in Education | Sophie Christophy

Hyperactivity and postponing kindergarten

Let them play.

A new study from Stanford University shows that Danish kids who postponed kindergarten for up to one year showed dramatically higher levels of self-control.

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child at age 11,” Thomas Dee, one of the co-authors and a Stanford Graduate School of Education professor, said in a release.

Dee did his research with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Centre for Social Research, who told Quartz that the impact was strong and lasted a long time: “We were a bit surprised at how persistent the effect was.” The effect of delaying school on hyperactivity and inattention didn’t diminish over time, as they expected, but increased: in fact, waiting one year virtually eliminated the chance that an average kid at age 11 would have higher-than-normal scores on those measures.

One interesting hypothesis is posed: did attending school later allow kids more time to develop through unstructured play? Developmental psychology research emphasizes the importance of imaginative play in aiding children’s emotional and intellectual self-regulation. “Children who delay their school starting age may have an extended (and appropriately timed) exposure to such playful environments,” the study noted. Party time, kids.

Source: Stanford researchers show we’re sending many children to school way too early — Quartz

Structural ideology, systems thinking, and the three tier caste system

Structural ideology and restorative practices acknowledge the actuality of our systems and the lived experiences of students. Students live and learn within the context of a three tier caste system. Cultivate intersectional systems thinking with this engaging 11 minute primer on the three tier system,

the documentary 13th,

and the books The New Jim Crow and A People’s History of the United States.

“Oh, so design isn’t about this pixels thing. It’s about systems thinking.” I’m a systems thinker. “Oh, so it isn’t just about the appearance.”

Source: Good design is good business | McKinsey & Company

Progressive, connected education

Because now is the time to prove that progressive and connected education is the only way we build hope for the future.

We have a generation asking us to be better, and so we must be that for Generation Z. And we must begin with schools that become unschools. We’re not there, but we’re trying.

We know we need to help our kids become communicators, curators, inventors, problem solvers, and critical thinkers. And we need to reimagine education to get there.

Source: Still need to get Dan Willingham on a tour, so he can understand where education needs to go – Medium

Neurodiversity inclusion and class size

Children with autism who are in a large class at school are more likely to play with peers at recess than are those in a small class.

The new findings reveal that large class size and opportunities to connect with classmates may help children with autism gain a foothold in their school’s social network.

The most socially successful children with autism came from the largest classes and, not surprisingly, showed the strongest communication skills and the fewest repetitive behaviors on the ADOS. The findings suggest that schools can boost the social success of children with autism by putting them in large classes, which maximizes the number of familiar faces they can approach on the playground.

The researchers also noted that children with autism are most likely to occupy a prime spot in the social network when they have ample opportunities to interact with typical classmates.

Programs that teach typical students how best to engage and interact with children who have autism may also help build the social circles of those on the spectrum, Anthony says. The researchers suggest in the study that “a successful inclusion model would start by training the peers, not the child with autism.”

Source: Support helps some children with autism socialize at school | Spectrum

The Open Schoolhouse

I updated my primer on The Open Schoolhouse. I still need to add a few grafs tying it into the communication is oxygen narrative.

What I love so much about open source philosophy, and what I strive to replicate on the help desk, is the participatory, inclusive environment where traditional power structures dissolve and students are empowered to act, contribute, express, learn, and think. Together as a team, students and staff shape the world around them. Once we stop treating students like data banks waiting for downloads, once we trust students as equal partners in their education, and once we empower students to contribute to their school community, the open schoolhouse emerges.

Typing > handwriting, plain text editors

“I’ve had a fair number of kids that were traditionally disengaged— The most common complaint: ‘I don’t like to write, so I don’t like school.’ When I said, ‘Well, you can type it. You don’t have to write; you can type. And you can use the spell checker, and you can look up words.’ All of the sudden they say, ‘Oh, OK. I’ll do that.’”

“If you’re not a good writer, sitting and writing on a piece of paper is hard. But when they have a computer that can help with spelling, and with grammar, and they can go online and look up words and the pronunciation, and they can hear how it’s said, and they can write it down correctly. Now they feel good about themselves because they’re not getting a paper back with a thousand red marks all over it, correcting grammar and spelling that they don’t necessarily understand in the first place.”

High school students are often reluctant writers, especially when assigned to produce work that is uninteresting and unrelated to their personal lives. However, writing is a vital part of the help desk. Apprentices, both on and off the Communication Team, regularly craft articles for the support blog. My team offers starter ideas, but the apprentices select most topics based on their interests and the support needs of their peers. In this setting, writing feels less stilted, less pedantic, and more authentic. Writing for a real-world audience is vastly different from a traditional school writing assignment where a single teacher is a sole spectator.

Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

As a hacker and writer, I spend a lot of time in text editors. Almost everything I write starts in my favorite text editor. A text editor is my thinking space.

Hackers, writers, scientists, and screenwriters love plain text & Markdown. Let’s infect education with the love of plain text. It’s portable, non-proprietary, and humane.

Plain text writing (and marking up text elements for later formatting) is simple. If you’ve been socialized in Word (like me), you may disagree at first. But I believe that if you try plain text writing, you’re likely to change your mind and come to enjoy its purity and simplicity. As for myself, I think now that text processors are actually cumbersome, and many writers just got so used to this fact that they don’t question it anymore.

So writing plain text means to separate writing from formatting for the sake of productivity. The essential structural elements of a text are marked up while writing: You can write headings of various levels, add emphasis, add lists and more. What you can’t do: Tweak margins, or choose your first order headings to be 24 pt, and red-colored. All the layout tasks that have nothing to do with the content you’re trying to compose. Take care of layout later. This first instance should be about writing, and writing only.

If you want to publish your text more than once, but in different formats, plain text is very effective – thanks to the use of markup, you can easily convert it. Ulysses, as an example, can use one and the same text to create a formatted PDF, an e-book or standard HTML – with just a few clicks.

Source: Why Plain Text Will Boost Your Productivity as a Writer | Ulysses Blog

Open by default

Leaving emails and other routine documents subject to FOIA encourages a general culture of transparency within agencies while creating another reminder that government employees work for the people.

But it’s equally important that government officials do get used to working in public, so to speak, and part of that job is being able and ready to share, explain, and occasionally defend their work.

The more routine they make that practice, and the more deeply ingrained it is in their culture, the harder it is for anyone to turn it into a “gotcha.”

18F has done a great job of working to embrace openness as a core value, doing much of its programming work in public on Github, and even working to open up much of its Slack services to the public.

That strategy has seemed to work: 18F has achieved a lot, and what scandals have emerged have been taken in stride, with the agency preferring open and honest communication around the challenges as they move to update the technological engines of governance for the digital age.

What typically hurts officials is when they fight requests, rather than embracing them as an opportunity to share their work with constituents.

Source: Why emails should be subject to FOIA, explained

In a communication is oxygen culture, open by default comes naturally.

Respectful parenting

  • Instead of intensive speech therapywe use a wonderful mash-up of communication including AAC, pictures scribbled on notepads, songs, scripts, and lots of patience and time.
  • Instead of sticker charts and time outs, or behavior therapy – we give hugs, we listen, solve problems together, and understand and respect that neurodivergent children need time to develop some skills
  • Instead of physical therapywe climb rocks and trees, take risks with our bodies, are carried all day if we are tired, don’t wear shoes, paint and draw, play with lego and stickers, and eat with our fingers.
  • Instead of being told to shush, or be stillwe stim, and mummies are joyful when they watch us move in beautiful ways.
  • Instead of schoolwe unschool and can follow our interests, dive deep in to passions, move our bodies, and control our environment

Source: Respectfully Connected | #HowWeDo Respectful Parenting and Support

  • Be patient.
  • Presume competence.
  • Meet them at their level.
  • Treat challenges as opportunities.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Seek inclusion.
  • Embrace the obsession.
  • Create a calm oasis.
  • Let them stim!
  • Encourage play and creativity.

Source: A parent’s advice to a teacher of autistic kids

Diversity and inclusion resources

Recent diversity and inclusion discussions from the tech water coolers I lurk about:

D&I Water Cooler – hypubnemata

The Open Schoolhouse

Update: An updated version of this post is available on my main blog.

The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.

The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.

We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.

The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Source: Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

Charlie Reisinger (@charlie3), author of The Open Schoolhouse, is a good resource on open learning, service learning, 1:1 laptop programs, student help desks, school IT, and WordPress in education.In his school district, Penn Manor, student IT apprentices write code, write documentation, image laptops, and provide helpdesk support. Their code and docs are open source and available on GitHub.

Here are some videos on Penn Manor’s approach to the open schoolhouse.

Mr. Reisinger poses the vitally important question, “Which side of the command line should our kids be on?”

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education system designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom.

Source: How leveraging open source solutions helps give students in-demand skills | Opensource.com

Given unfettered permission to revise, remix, and redistribute curriculum material, teachers are trusted to become active agents in the creation of high-quality learning materials.

At Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Linux and open source software are the foundations for more than 4000 student laptops, classroom computers, and district servers. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by going open source in both the server room and the classroom.

To #GoOpenSource means more than simple cost savings for underfunded schools. Like openly-licensed education material, open source values invite collaborative and participatory learning. When a school culture honors learning by doing, students become active agents in their education, and they contribute to the school community in innovative new ways.

Source: Schools that #GoOpen should #GoOpenSource

Penn Manor open sources the work of its student IT apprentices. Their code and docs are available on GitHub.

For more on the open schoolhouse and open technology, see Communication Is Oxygen.

Here’s another handful of favorite quotes from the book.

Open-minded teachers like Christa gave our apprentices an opportunity to build self-esteem and leadership skills that would transfer to a myriad of careers, whether related to technology or not. Most compelling, I think, is that a whole new school culture emerged. The roles of student and teacher blurred. The classroom hierarchy flattened. We were becoming an open schoolhouse.

Project-based learning? Check. Everything the student apprentices created was part of an authentic technology project. Challenge-based learning? Absolutely. We had four months to do something the high school has never done. How about 20 percent time? Certainly. Innovation was encouraged 100 percent of the time. Hour of code? Plural. Our apprentices were about to log hundreds of hours of programming time. We had created a paradise for student hackers.

Without a course rubric, curriculum, or end-of-unit test, they created software destined to impact 1,725 of their peers, and eliminate hundreds of staff hours typically wasted on manually sorting and scheduling students into sessions.

What if our classrooms pushed aside lecture and standard curriculum, and reorganized as a community of practitioners working toward a common goal? What if every high school junior worked just like a journalist or technologist?

The flat-world technology revolution asks us to rethink our notion of what it means to be educated and literate in the 21st Century. However, one traditional skill remains unchanged: the ability to artfully and effectively self-express through writing. Blogs, reports, essays, and Tweets; writing across multiple modalities is learning made visual–and a full keyboard is still the most efficient tool to hone this skill.

Schools, it seems, are holding computer policies upside down. They shackle incredible, open-ended learning technology in digital chains. An air of distrust hangs over the device and the student. The practice cripples learning and students’ autonomy. Repressive computer device management policies crush learner agency and intellectual freedom.

What I love so much about open source philosophy, and what I strive to replicate on the help desk, is the participatory, inclusive environment where traditional power structures dissolve and students are empowered to act, contribute, express, learn, and think. Together as a team, students and staff shape the world around them. Once we stop treating students like data banks waiting for downloads, once we trust students as equal partners in their education, and once we empower students to contribute to their school community, the open schoolhouse emerges.

DSISD Commons #5

DSES Website

To build a project-based learning culture compatible with work, prioritize communication. Tool for communication, collaboration, iteration, and launch. Bring students, teachers, and tech workers together to do_action education.

Source: DSES Website

Creative Leadership

  • inspiration > authority
  • carrots > sticks
  • networked > hierarchical
  • nonlinear > linear
  • iterate > plan
  • risk > order
  • real > right
  • open > closed

Source: Creative Leadership

The Open Schoolhouse

The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.

The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.

We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.

The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

Recognizing the deficit model

This image is actually a great example of deficit thinking — an ideology that blames victims of oppression for their own situation. As with this image, deficit thinking makes systemic forms of racism and oppression invisible. Other images, like the one of different animals having to climb a tree, or of people picking fruit, suffer from the same problem. How would we make these root causes more visible in our “equity vs. equality” image?

Well, if we began with the metaphor of the fence, this would require making clear that the reason some people have more difficulty seeing than others is not because of their height, but because of the context around them.

Source: The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you’re using | Cultural Organizing

Keep grit, bootstrap, and deficit ideology out growth mindset. Growth mindset without structural ideology, restorative practices, and inclusion can be more harmful than helpful. Do not use growth mindset to shift responsibility for change from our systems to children. The practice and implementation of growth mindset has been suborned by deficit and bootstrap ideology. Develop an authentic voice based on diversity & inclusion, neurodiversity & the social model of disability, and structural ideology instead of propagating the untempered language of the latest deficit/bootstrap fad. Inclusion and structural ideology are the way forward. Growth mindset as commonly implemented is just another bootstrap metaphor that excuses systems from changing and learning.

Source: Growth Mindset and Structural Ideology – hypubnemata

Surveillance in Education

“In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. If a school board loses control of their own security or they have bad employees, there’s nothing students can do. They are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.”

“We have this path of surveillance that starts with prisoners, then mental patients, refugees, students, benefits claimants, blue collar workers and then white collar workers. That’s the migration path for surveillance and students are really low in the curve. People who work in education are very close to the front lines of the legitimisation of surveillance and designing computers to control their users rather than being controlled by users,” Doctorow says.

Surveillance in education can also interfere with the educational process, he says, because “nobody wants to be seen fumbling. When you are still learning, you don’t want to feel like you are being watched and judged.” Doctorow adds that, due to their lack of power, students have limited options to take control of their learning and the digital tools they use.

“I talk to students, often younger students, who say they don’t worry about surveillance because they know how to block it out; they use a proxy or something else. But, first of all, those students can get in a lot of trouble for it. In America, they could actually be committing a crime and they could go to jail for it. It also doesn’t solve the overall problem; it only solves it for them. So I’ve often said to students that rather than breaking the rules, they document the absurdity of the rules and demand that adults account for it.”

“The censorware companies mostly work in the Middle East in repressive regimes who buy it on a mass scale to try to control the flow of information in their countries. Students should contact journalists, the school board and the parents’ association and ask why they are giving money that was meant to be for their education to war criminals who spy on us.”

Source: “Peak indifference”: Cory Doctorow on surveillance in education | OEB Newsportal

Building welcoming communities

Open source communities have been iterating on community and collaboration for decades. Education can learn from the history, good and bad, of open source communities. Onboarding, recognition, inclusion, managing trolls and toxic contributors.

1. Be Safe

It doesn’t matter how fun and amazing your project is, if people don’t feel safe — they won’t contribute. Security is a hygienic factor — make sure it is good enough. You want a Code of Conduct. Contributor Covenant is a great resource for this, but refrain from just copy & pasting. Take a moment and read it, and make sure you document how you will enforce it and be prepared to enforce it.

3. Be Inclusive

Use simple language (Hemingway can help). List all professions like “Design”, “Editorial”, “Documentation” instead of saying “Non-Coding”. Use gender-neutral language, prefer “them” and “they” over “him” and “she”. Avoid phrases like “Hey guys”.

5. Stickers

People love stickers 🙂

Source: Welcoming Communities

When we rally around a common goal and share our work with others, we create something new, something that we can be proud of sharing, something that can change and transform our world. This is the spirit of the open source community.

The accretion of individual contributions, the additive effect of cooperation, and a community growth mindset makes open source compelling for educators. As we will discover, the open source community model shares considerable similarities with a vibrant learning community. It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a community to cultivate and grow great software. It turns out that hackers are outstanding members of the open source community.

open source principles signify “a sense of humanity between every single individual by acting as a unified medium for collaboration, and the ability to contribute to any cause by the power of your voice and actions. In education, this philosophy is essential, as no singular concept, whether programming or academic practice, stands to be perfect.”

Open source allows people to transcend tribalism and belong to a true cosmopolitan community resolute on the improvement of life standards through all-inclusive access to technology. The use of open source in our schools benefits the community through the growth of its user base. This base is in constant renewal when new generations of students enter our school population every year. All these students will carry in their minds, at the very least, the awareness of the usefulness of open source; many of them will carry over to their professional careers such awareness. We are truly seeding the open source mentality in our community.

We were initially attracted to free and open source software because of the cost savings, but ultimately, it was the spirit of open that liberated our students and opened our schoolhouse.

Source: The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

There are codes of conduct for contributing to the open source foundations of the internet. The Contributor Covenant is widely used and representative of an emerging consensus on codes of conduct for distributed collaboration. The covenant is compatible with structural ideologyrestorative practices, neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and real life.

Source: Contributor Covenants, Codes of Conduct

Privacy and Passwords

I updated my password primer with a reference to the new NIST password rules.

Update: The NIST recently announced new password rules that recommend sites allow a maximum length of at least 64 characters. 1Password updated its password generator to support a 64 character maximum.

At most schools, student identities are protected by weak passwords trivially derived from usernames and reused everywhere. Once someone gets ahold of your email password, they can reset your passwords elsewhere and pwn your life. When you reuse passwords, a data leak on a forgotten site can be escalated into takeover of your email and your identity.

Source: Privacy and Passwords – Ryan Boren