Reflections on Water and Wailele

(This post a reflection from a class visit from our Kumu (Teacher) Makana Kane Kuahiwinui, who spoke to us about the Hawaiian cultural perspective on water, in general and specifically in our Manoa Valley.)

The work we have been doing and thinking about water consumption at times seem disconnected from a real problem, situation and solution. Kumu’s sharing today broadened my thinking because I usually see most things through a western science perspective. Is it dirty? How do we know? How can we clean it? I deepened that meaning by really backing up and considering what the water all around, the rain (Tuahine) we see every day, the running water on campus, Wailele and how it sits with Kahala O Puna in the middle of campus. I need to recommit myself to not just going for learning information but learning to be present in this moment and know why and how it matters.
The connection to this place in Manoa is something that we can do something about if that speaks to us. The importance of how water is around us and why and what we could do with it is a lesson and a challenge. And an opportunity.

I also think that the idea of ‘amakua and the importance of Pueo is interesting. The fact that Hawaiian culture speaks of the importance of a generational tie to what might be our guardian’s ties to families and their histories binds us together to this land.

Lastly I am struck by the importance of story. The value of connecting events, places, people through a compelling narrative is a uniquely human characteristic. I can do better job of using stories as a means to conveying ideas, values, concepts, etc. I should find more storytellers to help engage and tie together our work… Who might this be?
What was my wish for Wailele? That I don’t go by without checking in on her and asking how we are doing with her. We, our students, can visit and ask “how are you doing, how are WE doing?”

Three Kinds of Math?

Money, Philosophical and Artisanal Math

There was a wonderful piece on National Public Radio this week that told the story of Harvard researcher Houman Harouni (, who had done historical research on why we learn mathematics the way we do.

(His full dissertation is here:

In the dissertation, he gives a very specific example of how this kind of approach to mathematics can be viewed through three different approaches.

Money Math
He makes the case that all of western mathematics has ended up looking like problems of this type:

Susan has 12 oranges. Her mother gives her 15 more. How many oranges
does she have now?

or: 12+15 = ?

This kind of mathematics came out of the economics of the time – money counters and accountants, business people needed to know this kind of math in order to balance the books. He makes the compelling case that the economies drove the need for this kind of math to be necessary, and it became the predominant way of thinking of mathematics since the Renaissance.

Philosophical Math
He offers two other types of mathematical approaches. What if the problem was worded this way:

27 = ?

This approach is a more philosophical approach about the nature of the number, and the ways that it might come to be and what it represents.what could go into the right side of that equation? 9×3? Three cubed? Log base three of 27? It invites a very different kind of mathematical thinking and exploration.

Artisanal Math
Another approach would embed the math in the professional work during apprenticeships with craftsmen. This was very reminiscent of the work of Jean Lave ( and her excellent work on situated learning. In studying the traditions of apprenticeship for Tailor’s in countries like Tunisia, it was clear that mathematical learning was built into the apprenticeship, but it is not anything like what we would call traditional teaching and learning of mathematics. Moreover, these tailors had a high functional ability to work with mathematics that were specific to their craft.

Tying it all together
Over the past six years in working in our MPX program I have been delighted and challenged to try and build all three kinds of mathematical approaches into the work we do with our projects. We have developed mathematical models in our scientific community to understand and categorize physical phenomena, we’ve looked at form and function in ways that they express themselves in artistic work in design and engineering, and we’ve practiced traditional math as a means to understand some of the ways that procedural knowledge in mathematics can help us unpack what we see behind certain expressions. I think the real challenge of the evolution of mathematics education needs to be in rethinking how do we approach these sometimes complementary but more often than not this connected or even underutilized approaches to building mathematical understanding in all of our students. In some ways, they fit the three legs of mathematical understanding that are part of common core: no (money math), do (artisan old math), understand (philosophical math).

Here is the NPR story that explains some of the research:

so where do these ideas come from? We often look through many different than textbooks, to see what kind of end of chapter problems (like Dan did) to find something that would be engaging, authentic, and serve the purpose of learning and reinforcing the concept correctly. Sometimes we can find these fairly easily (like the poll activity mentioned above) other times hours of searching for inherently interesting examples turn out fruitless. As we build a repertoire of activities, over the years we will probably have a more refined way to define, create and refine activities that are successful… But the search continues to try and find the match between authentic mathematical thinking, and learning the kind of computational skills that are inherent on standardized testing and expected at higher levels of mathematics coursework they may encounter. An ongoing challenge…

NECC Tuesday June 30

NECC Summary

This document is the summary report for this year’s conference. Thinking about what’s most readable, I decided to do a little differently. I’ll summarize all five days in a paragraph or two here, and then if you wish you can look for the detailed notes, which are more “bullet style” but have specific tools and links as well as as many comments as I could cram in while I was typing with my laptop and tweeting. Caveat emptor!
After note — for the sake of readability, I broken down each post by day — that way the documents won’t be too far apart from the information that refers to them.

Tuesday June 30
(detailed notes with more info and links at end – this is just a summary)

The first event of the day was a pro and con discussion/debate on the topic of bricks and mortar. This was hosted by NPR’s Robert Siegel and was provocative although at times didn’t really address reality in my mind. not surprising to me, Cheryl Lemke had the best statements to make, reasoned, research-based, realistic. Her session later that day, of course was just as excellent. By contrast, Scott McLeod’s presentation the day before on disruptive technologies did much better job of portraying (what I believe is) the looming crisis in education due to technologies disruptive influence. The video of the session can be viewed here:

The first session I attended was Kathy Schrock’s “winning strategies for handling information overload” – Does this woman sleep?
As always, she was well prepared and had a lot of great advice. (I am trying to get the slides from the presentation so to make sure I didn’t miss anything, it was a pretty whirlwind presentation, she covered a lot of ground in one hour)
she was first going over strategies for managing e-mail overload, key advice — switch from pop to IMAP
she talked to the bit about networks — in particular she had reviewed a bunch of different models at some specific recommendations — these went to buy for me to transfer here hopefully I will believe this if I can get the slides from a presentation.

She then went on to talk about smart phones and waxed eloquent on the iPhone — as an owner of every version of this phone since it was released, I couldn’t agree more. A fabulous piece of technology, well-designed, state-of-the-art, visionary. we take it for granted now just two years after it was released and expected every new phone to do what this can do. Need I say more?Her YouTube video in tribute of the iPhone is in her notes

to manage just email she mentioned the email peek- cute device

she also mentioned a device called Chumby –
this is a great little device that keeps all of your social network in gadget/widget stuff off your computer. Touchscreen, 3 inches one button — on/off – simple fun and useful. Retails for under $180 — I gotta get me one of these!

she then went on to talk about a bunch of web 20 tools for things like social networking, blogging, etc. edmodo, diigo, Google docs, ether pad, etc.
here is a provocative one — Foxmarks- for Firefox, maintain bookmarks on one computer, and it shares with all the others that are subscribed to it. This would seem a wonderful strategy for computer lab, so that a librarian/resource person could maintain a set of bookmarks on their computer, and have all of the lab computers subscribe to their foxmarks. to take a closer look at this one…
she posted a website that has links for all of the tools she talked about, as well as a pdf of her presentation here:

Gail Lovely’s session
top ten sites for early learners

I believe Gail Lovely is a fantastic resource for elementary education. In this session she spent about three minutes each on 10 tools that you are powerful examples of technology in elementary education. her website does a fantastic job explaining this so I’ll just put the link here:
her general websites are:

tools mentioned: vocaroo, simplybox, kerploff, yakpak, gloggster, animoto, skype, voicethread, blogs, wikis

Cheryl Lemke, The Metiri Group
The Ripple Effect
once again, Cheryl showed why she is unique (well her and Ed Coughlin) in not just talking about technology education, but using research as the focus for both understanding and having a conversation about appropriate uses of technology. Certainly others rely on the research and some folks like Chris Dede are doing the research, but the combination of work her group does in her abilities to ariculate it is always refreshing.
she started her talk by using the research from the November 2008 research white paper by Mazuko Ito et al funded by the MacArthur foundation titled “living and learning the media”. This paper alone was worth attending the session for, as her group made available on their website for download and it is a phenomenal read!
In her presentation, Cheryl points out that teens use the social side of the web for two overlapping but distinct phenomena — the friendship side of the web that they don’t want adults part of, and the learning side of the web which adults can be part of But not necessarily.
She also talked a bit about truth and fiction on multitasking, talk about lesson design using Web 20 tools and what it means to engage deep learning.
She talked about the importance of trends in collaboration and about powerful ways to make online collaborative learning more effective (one example: recent national study shows that in a one-hour class period, only 1.7 minutes are for sustained, engaged conversation with adolescents)
she finished by talking about specific tools and activities that she thinks support the research on learning and are effective.
Her presentation notes are located here:

NECC Monday June 29

Monday June 29

{{did not attend morning sessions, as I volunteered from 9-noon}}

I attended A session on Second Life in Education.
Since I arrived about halfway through the presentation they were already into the part where they were talking about sites and visiting them. A few of the sites they visited: the Alamo, which had been set up for last year’s conference in San Antonio. They went to a marvelous site for the war victims from Middle East were each soldier has a plaque or information about them. They visited genome island where you can do things like fly inside the cell and click on the parts to learn more about how they work. At that point the question came up on accuracy and it was agreed that teachers should help the students plan for the appropriate use of these sites by checking them in advance. I had a conversation later in the conference with Westley Field who is working with Linden labs to develop a more controlled easily accessible environment so that some of these issues won’t be as difficult.

I attended a session titled
“teachers learning in networked communities”
this was a pilot program with a bunch of schools (U Washington, U Memphis, U Colorado Denver) to build an online community for supporting pre-service and student teaching. They chose the platform Tapped In which they recognized although it is still very old-school in its approach and its compliance with Web 20 protocols, still serve the basic need for them and building a community, having public and private areas, having file repositories, supporting synchronous and asynchronous conversation,etc. the program was very successful for them, however, once the need for the students to be part of the community ended, few stayed on. One of their goals had been to expand the site from her just true service teachers, but they still need to do more to understand and use professional who are not required to come to space. Of course, if we look at the research from Ito that was mentioned in Lemke’s presentation this year, the closer these tools aligned to the more personal networks to students use — things like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, the more likely we are to make the spaces inviting enough two continue to sustain conversation professionally. someone else from the University of Washington mentioned that they are looking at using elluminate as a tool to connect students together. (Mark’s personal feeling is that although this is a useful tool to support an online community, you can only be one piece as its synchronous nature doesn’t allow for the full opportunity of knowledge building that happens in asynchronous environments.)

The next session was with Scott McLeod

who maintains a website:
dangerously irrelevant
his goal for this topic was disruptive technologies — based on Christensen’s books and writings. This was a great presentation which was highly attended much to my surprise. Apparently even the most traditional of the public schools are beginning to understand that they need to look at new models of change. He first covered the ground that Christiansen had in his latest book and then talked about things schools need to do in order to survive. One of his points at the heart was the research and viewpoint that if schools don’t make dramatic change happen, they will struggle to change their organization. One model that he discussed was creating a new organization rather than trying to change the one that you currently have. This is much in line with our (MPI) initiative in the high school, where instead of trying to change all the school at once, we decided to try and innovate a school within a school with the hope that we would learn from that school what works and what doesn’t and make further determinations if we want to expand the size and reach. He finished with some insights, what schools should do, more detailed notes are located on the in the documents section listed below

my document repository (notes, slides, etc) here:

NECC Sunday June 28

The Morning Session was with Knowledge Works foundation who shared their future of education roadmap to the year 2020. This is definitely worth the time to visit and very provocative stuff. Essentially, we explored each of their six forces that they see pushing education in either a positive or negative direction. For each one of these, we had a chance to stop and reflect about the implications as well as examples of these. You can look at my notes or go to their website to get more detail, but the six forces are altered bodies, amplified organizations, platform for resilience, new civil discourse, maker economy, pattern recognition

they have lots of resources on their website that links to examples of this

the afternoon session was a meeting of the special interest groups on technology coordinators sponsored by ISTE. the session was led by Max Frazier who started by talking about the role of the technology coordinator and the challenges it presents.

His slides are posted in my repository as well as my notes. A couple of key things that came out of the session, there is a desire for the group to continue this conversation beyond this meeting today, there’s a recognition that the current economy will cause all of us to rethink some of our core assumptions about providing technology service and campus, and there was a sense of lack of control over budget and policy Center off dictated by other areas of campus — school boards, principals, public initiatives.

my document repository here