Meta wants to put students and teachers in Quest VR headsets

woman using vr goggles outdoors
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Meta plans to make Quest VR headsets a key tool for classroom learning, offering students immersive educational experiences. The push for VR in education raises questions about the future of learning and student engagement. Despite concerns like cybersickness and limited accessibility, Meta sees VR technology as a promising avenue for transforming education.

  • Meta will release a suite of visually engrossing education apps for teachers to use with students ages 13 and older in time for the fall 2024 semester.
  • Teachers will be able to manage multiple Quest devices at once without preparing and updating each device individually.

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There is no audience

empty seat
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Stop worrying about what you think other people think of you and what you do. They don’t care. They’re too busy worrying about themselves.

Teachers and students, this is your call to get busy doing your own thing, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks.


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Random Links 4-3-2024


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Counting what counts

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“It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

William Bruce Cameron

If there was a better quote for how many schools assign grades to student work, I don’t know what it might be.

Yes, the US’s most popular form of grading still uses letter grades. I know I know, those letters have numbers assigned to them to make it easy for teachers to score.

But who decided what the numbers meant, and why is the range for failure so huge compared to everything else?

Normally, on a 100-point grading scale, more than half of the “numbers” give you a failing grade.

Really? Can we finally admit that, much like Whose Line is it Anyway, the points don’t matter?

Authentic work, the goal so many of us in education are working toward, isn’t easy to “count,” no matter how you frame it.

But the skills students learn when they are presented with real problems and shared with a real audience absolutely count.

Count what counts, leave the rest to the number-crunchers.


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That $20 fiddle has taken me everywhere…

bodie mountain express

Much of my teen years and into my twenties revolved around music. I played trumpet from 6th grade onward–and wasn’t too shabby–I eventually learned a bit of piano–I can chord and keep a rhythm like nobody’s business–and a bit of signing.

My wife has a music degree and is an excellent flautist. And my kiddo is already falling into the world of musical theatre with all her heart.

While I’m no longer actively involved in the music scene, I’ll always be a musician and hooked on the power of music. I love it and always will, and love sharing great music I stumble upon through my yearly playlists.

Music can bring us all together and inspire us to be more than we believe. For some, it can take you outside of your circumstances into a new world filled with sights and sounds beyond imagination. A new world of hope and promise.

I’m a huge believer in keeping arts programs in our schools. My time in the band kept me sane in my middle and high school experiences. Without the connections I made and the love of music that gave me a place to go and hide when things got rough, which happened regularly as a chubby, geeky kid in the late 80s and early 90s, I’m not sure what I would have done, but it probably wouldn’t have been great.

Los Angeles Unified School District is one of the last school districts in the country to provide freely repaired instruments to its students. The Oscar-winning documentary The Last Repair Shop takes us behind the scenes of that work.

More importantly, we learn the stories of a few individuals and what music and this instrument repair program mean to them.

From a mother who works to support her family to a man who caught the fiddle itch so bad he just had to have a $20 violin from a yard sale, these stories will inspire and make you weep.

By the way, that $20 violin took Duane Michaels and his band, Bodie Mountain Express, all the way to opening for Elvis on his biggest night ever and around the world, and then took him to repair woodwinds for LAUSD students.

From the film-

In a nondescript warehouse in the heart of Los Angeles, a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople maintain over 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. Meet four unforgettable characters whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of the recording capital of the world. Watch “The Last Repair Shop,” directed by Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers.

In less than 45 minutes, you’ll see these stories and some of the students touched by this program. Music has a unique power among the arts to unite so many, sometimes without words.

We must keep music in our schools, forever.


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Doing the Work of Learning

There is no substitute for doing the work, whatever your work may be. Put in the time, mastery will come.

stephen king on writing

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Change Everything to What Suits You

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The more you dive into creative work, the more creative you are. It’s like building a muscle.

Keep flexing that muscle, and it will grow until you reach a plateau, causing you to search for a new challenge. Creating is no different; you’re just flexing different muscles.

Musicians know this, as they can see the direct result of hours of focused practice months later in new skills and abilities on their instrument, or perhaps even on a new instrument.

Enter Jacob Collier.

Collier, who experienced viral stardom through his YouTube channel in the early 2010s, now regularly collaborates with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

At some point, he decided to pick up the guitar and transfer his piano skills to a new instrument. When he did, something interesting happened.

In this video with Paul Davids, Collier describes learning to play on his first guitar, which had only four strings, like a mandolin. Because of his love of tight harmonies, Collier eventually spoke with Taylor Guitars to craft a 5-string guitar rather than the typical 6-string layout.

The results? Something utterly new and beautiful. But, Collier admits that he doesn’t think of himself as a guitar player because he doesn’t play like a trained guitar player.

“I couldn’t play the guitar, but I would imagine playing the guitar,” Collier notes as he explains his learning process. He admits that he doesn’t follow many of the guitar-playing rules.

Davids, the host and an accomplished guitar player himself tells Collier, “If you don’t like a rule, tweak it… change everything to what suits you.”

If we could grasp that statement and put it into practice with our students, I think we’d see some amazing things come out of our schools. How often do we ask our students (and ourselves) to do things that don’t fit naturally with how we think, act, or create? Why do we continually try to force everything in education to fit into a box?

Sometimes, we allow “tradition” to dictate our work far too much. Remember, tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.

On Not Knowing the Way But Doing It Anyway

Collier talks about hanging with Joni Mitchell–yes, that Joni Mitchell–and watching her play guitar. She plays chords she doesn’t know, but her fingers and ears let her find the right ones to play, making something new.

This idea of not really knowing what you’re doing as you create isn’t new and certainly isn’t exclusive to educators trying to change their teaching practice for a different generation of learners.

Paul McCartney, one of the most well-known songwriters in the history of songwriters, said in a 2016 interview:

“There is no sort of point you just think, ‘Okay, now I can do it, I’ll just sit down and do it.’ It’s a little more fluid than that. You talk to people who make records or albums and you always go into the studio thinking, ‘Oh, well I know this! I’ve got a lot of stuff down, you know, I write.’ And then you realize that you’re doing it all over again you’re starting from square one again. You’ve never got it down. It’s this fluid thing, music. I kind of like that. I wouldn’t like to be blasé or think, ‘Oh you know I know how to do this.’ In fact I teach a class at a the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys — I do a little songwriting class with the students — and nearly always the first thing I go in and say [is], ‘I don’t know how to do this. You would think I do, but it’s not one of these things you ever know how to do. You know I can say to you: Select the key. We will now select a rhythm. Now make a melody. Now think of some great words,’ That’s not really the answer.”

Paul McCartney on songwriting

So, fearless educators, if someone like McCartney doesn’t have it figured out yet and still doubts his abilities to write songs, I think we’re doing alright as we face the productive struggle of creating new ways to do things in our schools.

Final Thoughts

I’ve often said that educators must be some of the most creative people on the planet. Every day, we face different situations, needs, and demands as we do our best to prepare students for a future we don’t know.

Maybe we should worry less about getting it all right and feel great about diving into new adventures and figuring it out as we go.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Shared Assumptions & Changing Culture

The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.

Edgar Schein

I’m reading An Uncommon Theory of School Change for a class, and the image text struck me. Actually, it knocked me to the floor.

Specifically, the idea of “shared assumptions” among a school’s teachers and staff. Every organization has these shared assumptions, and they all influence how the day-to-day functions of the organization, specifically in defining the organization’s culture, as Ed Schein explained.

So, why are these shared assumptions important in our schools?

Easy: they play a large part in how students learn. If teachers have decided, perhaps with the best of intentions, that “our kids can’t do that“–whatever that is–then it’s highly likely that the kids won’t do that.

(Somehow, this has turned into a bad commentary on one of Meat Loaf’s greatest hits…)

This line of thinking also shows up in John Hattie’s work, as teacher estimates of achievement significantly impact student learning.

Part of our work to change schools should involve a hard look at our shared assumptions and, perhaps, some adjustments to those assumptions.

After all, you know what happens when you assume something…


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Leveraging the Science of Learning and Development to Combat Loneliness in Schools

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Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic

In a profound exploration of the modern societal challenge, Harvard professor Robert Waldinger sheds light on the growing epidemic of loneliness in his recent YouTube lecture. He defines loneliness as a subjective experience where an individual feels less connected to others than desired. This feeling is distinct from isolation, as one can be isolated and content, surrounded by people, yet feel profoundly lonely.

The Rise of Loneliness

Loneliness has been on an upward trend since the 1950s. Factors contributing to this rise include increased societal mobility, the introduction and evolution of television, and the digital revolution. These changes have gradually eroded community engagement and personal interactions.

The Health Impacts

Research by Julianne Holt-Lunstad highlights the severe health implications of loneliness, equating its danger to smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. Loneliness contributes to physical health deterioration and accelerates brain decline in later life.

The Power of Connections

Waldinger emphasizes the importance of investing in relationships for well-being. It’s not just close relationships that count; even casual interactions with community members, like a mail carrier or a grocery store cashier, can foster a sense of belonging.

Sale
Student Mental Health: A Guide For Teachers, School and District Leaders, School Psychologists and Nurses, Social Workers, Counselors, and Parents
  • Dikel MD, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 08/16/2022 (Publication Date) – W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Schools’ Role in Building Inclusive Communities

Recognizing Loneliness in Students

Schools must first acknowledge that loneliness can be a significant issue among students. Young adults, in particular, are highly susceptible to loneliness. Educators can play a crucial role in identifying signs of loneliness and providing support.

Creating Inclusive Environments

Schools can use the science of learning and development to build inclusive student communities. This includes:

  1. Promoting Social Skills: Integrating social skill development into the curriculum can help students who feel lonely and are hesitant to reach out. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can be adapted for the classroom to help students revise their assumptions about social interactions.
  2. Encouraging Community Engagement: Activities that foster community involvement can help students feel more connected. This might include group projects, community service initiatives, or school clubs that cater to diverse interests.
  3. Building Casual Connections: Schools should create environments where casual, positive interactions are encouraged. This could be in the form of mentorship programs, buddy systems for new students, or structured social time during the school day.
  4. Supporting Emotional Health: Schools can provide resources for emotional support, such as counseling services or workshops on managing feelings of loneliness and building healthy relationships.

Empowering Students

Empowering students to understand and combat loneliness is essential. This involves teaching them that seeking connection is normal and healthy and providing them with the tools and opportunities to build meaningful relationships.

Conclusion

Loneliness is a complex and growing challenge, but schools can play a pivotal role in addressing this epidemic by understanding its dynamics and implementing strategies to promote connection and belonging. It’s about creating a culture where every student feels, as Waldinger concludes, “You belong. You matter. You’re connected.”


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!