Tweaking your Toolkit

Continuing on the Formula 1 theme, it’s racetime in Yeongam as I put together my thoughts.

The neat thing about Formula 1 racing is that there’s typically a two week gap between races.  It gives the teams the time to pack up and move all the equipment and cars from one country to the next.  Before Korea, it was Japan, and after Korea, they head to India.  The logistics of all this just boggles the mind.

However, moving from one race to the next involves more than just taking the same car.  In Canada, we get the UK feed of the race and one of the terms that they constantly use is “twisty bits”.  These are little pieces added or removed from the car to tweak things and get just a little bit more performace from the car.  Remember the graphic from yesterday?

In the race, they were reporting speeds of 324 km/h during the Korean Grand Prix.  If any team could add a piece here or take a piece away there and bump it to 325 km/h, they’d do it in a heartbeat and be geniuses.  Testing in the wind tunnel and in the practice sessions serves to tweak the car into perfection.  Some of the pieces may be discarded permanently or they might be stored and used at another track with similar needs.

The engineers constantly tweak to get the best in performance.

I liken the teacher toolkit to be the same sort of thing.

Why is it so important to bookmark and keep track of things?  Why is it so important to have three or four resources that essentially do the same thing?

I would suggest that it’s all in optimizing the learning experience.  Remember the old adage “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like nails?”   There may be variations on a theme and education is the beneficiary of this richness.

Take the humble word cloud.  Everyone knows about Wordle – it was probably the first word cloud you experienced and it does a terrific job.  However, when it’s used every time you wish students to create word clouds, it may lose its lustre.  Instead, I would suggest that you mix it up a bit.  I took at look at my Diigo account and found a number of word cloud utilities.

There probably are more!  Let me know if your favourite didn’t make the list.

Why do you need more than one?  There are many reasons.

  • It’s interesting to have more than one utility like this.
  • On any given day, your planned resource may be down. Do you scrap the lesson because of this?
  • While they all may appear  do the same thing, there are differences that would make one preferable to another for your task.
  • Once exposed to more than one, students can make a critical choice as to which one they would use for a particular task.

So, I would ask you…why wouldn’t you add all to your toolkit and then use them to get the most from student use.  Could you imagine how great the conversation would be when a child tells his parents that he learned a new “twisty bit” in class today?


OTR Links 10/15/2012

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.