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The Eye

Clay Burell: Blogging his way to reformation Student councils, toga parties, “edu-tainment,” and textbooks have felt his sharp tongue. Winner of the “Thinking Blogger Award,” social studies teacher Clay Burell has written pages of provocative prose. Seeing himself as “the antiindoctrinator,” Burell believes that, “Every adult - from parent to every other institution - tells kids what to think.” With posts ranging from “Taking Back Teaching: A Forgotten History” to “When Corrupting The Youth Is Good,” Burell argues for “more learning and less schooliness.” In “Student Council: Creating Tomorrow’s Followers (or, ‘Smells Like School Spirit’),” Burell tells the story of a student who quit a community service organization because he needed to “plan a haunted house and a 40-minute assembly to introduce sports teams.” Burell writes, “Look at how trivial

[school] makes you, even when you want to make a real difference in the real world.” “The Rat Race for college admissions puts a high premium on silly bullets like holding a class office,” Burrell writes in the same blog. “Can we give StuCo some teeth? Extend it into the real world? Isn’t it pathetically fay right now?” No doubt, posts like this are fodder for critics, but Burell’s 2,190 Twitter followers and 1,370 subscribers attest to the positive attention he has received worldwide. “Sometimes I lay an egg and that’s fine. It’s thinking, not preaching,” Burell said. “Unsucky English,” Burell’s online Gilgamesh lecture, caught the attention of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) last year. “I was invited to be a talking head on PBS because they read what I wrote,” Burell said.

Classroom 2.0

Burell declined the offer because of his commitment to SAS. That same month, Burrell was the keynote speaker at an Australian technology conference. The topic was “The Power of You in the Digital Age.” Just recently, the Harvard Berkman Center of Law contacted Burell to do an interview after he launched “Students 2.0,” an educational initiative connecting reform-minded students across the globe. Burell believes that the youth of the Digital Generation have yet to understand the transformative power of Web 2.0 – Internet that offers usergenerated features. Recently, he posted on his blog a reply to an Eye editorial on the growing role of technology in classrooms. The students are right – good teachers don’t need technology,” Burell said. Although Burell “mentally applauded” when he read the editorial, he did have a few criticisms, one targeting the lack interactivity on The Eye’s website.

1:1 laptop plan for next school year finds mixed reactions among teachers

“The term “Web 2.0” (2004–present) is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design,[1] and collaboration on the World Wide Web.” Source: Wikipedia

by Lauren Felice Next year, added to the phones, iPods Pods and calculators that fill students’ backpacks, each student will be required to bring a laptop to school. This 1:1 student to laptop policy is the largest component of the technology initiative, the school’s five-year push to incorporate more technology into the classroom. The laptops are intended to aid students not only in computer proficiency, but also in the way students interact with each other and with information. With each student having constant access to laptops, teachers can use discussion boards, interactive software and websites, and online databases to expand the information available

tto students. t d t “We’re going to see a change in the kind of research people do. Th l search h as th h The G Google the research method will change,” Deputy Principal Lauren Mehrbach said. Teachers will not be given measurable requirements for laptop use during class, but questions regarding laptop use will now be included in administative reviews, and teachers will be asked to reflect on their use. “I don’t know that we’re going to quantify it,” Mehrbach said. “That would be overly prescriptive and hard to manage.” A limited number of loaner laptops will be available for students who forget or temporarily cannot access their laptop, but the

Cafeteria 2.0 by Stanton Yuwono Next school year, SAS technology takes another leap with an ID card that will enable students to pay for their meals, check out books, buy school supplies and, maybe, use public transportation. William Scarborough, Director of Finance and Business Operations, has plans to issue a new student identification card with NETS capabilities. “We’re going to take the NETS card, and [on the other side] will be the student ID,” Scarborough said. In addition to the NETS capabilities, a separate “purse” will be available for a school account. “A parent could put money on the account for use in the cafeterias,”

Multi-purpose cash card starts test for August 2010 intro

Scarborough said. “So, if you lose the card, you lose the NETS money, but not the school money.” An additional chip in the card could possibly give its user the ability to open doors, provide admission to events, or place votes during student elections. “In the long run, as employees have cards with the chip in them, we [don’t] need so many manual keys,” Scarborough said. Scarborough said that Singapore is moving to a new cash card standard called, CEPAS, or Contactless e-Purse Application, which is compabitble with the NETS card. This school year, a select group of high school students will be issued a card with the new chip.

exp expectations of daily laptop use will be set by individual teachers. Some teachers are concerned about the potential for distractions such as Facebook, YouTube and messenging during class. “’Lids down!’ That eliminates a lot of the distraction if the teacher needs full attention,” Mehrbach said. Already this year, some teachers have begun to adopt laptop use in their classrooms. Students have seen an increase in the number of online blogs, forums, wikis and research databases used. “Some of the teachers, as you know, are either digital natives themselves…or they’ve made the transition from digital immigrant quite well and they’re soaring,”

Scarborough said that it cannot be used outside the campus yet, and added that its full capabilities will be available next year. A top-up station has already been installed in the high school town center (outside the high school office) for recharging the card. The system in the high school is ready to go and testing will begin before the March break. While on-campus payment can be made with the card, students who wish to use cash will still have that option. “It’s more of a convenience to parents than kids.” Parents can add money to a student’s account through checks, top-up stations or even online using a credit card. The new system will not only make paying more convenient for students and parents, but also speed up the accounting process for SAS employees.

February 5, 2010

Burell said the editorial had “pooh-pooh’d the very tools that are transforming literacy and journalism.” “If you have genius, you shouldn’t be writing in a little school newspaper read by a few students – and just a few,” Burell said. Mirroring his blog, Burell’s innovative teaching freshens the History of China syllabus. To avoid studying “one damn dynasty after another,” Burell restructured his course to start with 20th century China. This gives his students a point of


receive feedback from his visitors. “I love getting negative feedback because that’s the power of this new tool,” Burell added. Burell encourages his good writers to begin blogging and welcomes students to speak to him to learn how, for it’s his job to “make you thoughtful.”

reference prior to delving into ancient times. “History needs to be more than what happened next,” Burell said. He believes that one’s education, including his own, “needs to boil and cook; it needs to simmer; it needs hours.” Burell uses his blog as a platform to share teaching experiences and Mehrbach said. Social studies teacher Jason Adkison frequently includes laptop-based assignments in his classes, particularly Modern Asian Perspectives. “Pull up YouTube, look up this, “P pull uup Wikipedia, look up this… Just to t give them more tangibles, more tangible confirmation of what I’m ta talking about,” Adkison said. S Some teachers, though, are wary of making the change too quickly. “I don’t want to step into boundaries of the unknown without taking small, little steps,” Adkison said. “So if I do increase [use], I want to because a lesson will be better because of it.” “I think that technology can help many teachers, and I think technology can help kids learn. But…a very big ‘but’…I think it can get in the way of learning,” social studies teacher Jim Baker said. Some classes - such as the sciences using Loggerpro lab software, art classes using design programs, or language courses using voice In the short term, Scarborough’s goal is to make the cafeteria process work more efficiently. As more testing is completed, more features can be added.

recording and foreign resources have clear-cut opportunities to use the laptops. Other teachers are finding the need to alter their teaching styles to adapt to changes. “By pushing people into the use of technology, I think you detract from some teachers’ strong points,” Baker said. “We get into this sort of cookiecutter education, where one size fits all. And I think when you do that, I think kids get cheated.” “I think some teachers are just scared. Everyone will change; they have to,” Adkison said. The administration is in the process of gathering a small committee of both students and teachers to establish agreements about laptop regulations and adapting the existing acceptable-use policy. “What we’ll have is some growing pains, there’s no doubt about that,” Mehrbach said. “With everything we can do to expand the skill set that students have, the better prepared they’re going to be when they get out of here.”

“The fact that there is a chip in it, offers a lot of opportunities for other uses.”

Students congregate around a top-up machine for new ID cards, which can be used as an on-campus cash card as well as a NETS card.


SAS community raises almost 100,000 dollars (story, page 3) February 5, 2010 / Vol. 29 No. 4 Singapore American School FFFFFFFFFFeFFFFFFbrua...