Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dr. Fischler at FETC: "Change is inevitable..."

Video of Dr. Fischler in FETC Conference

Click here to go to the video on Youtube

Dr. Fischler's "Model for Changing the System"

Click here to see the presentation

Here is Dr. Fischler's blog from 2006

The Problem

At the present time, teachers are working hard but we are still not fulfilling the demands of our students or our society. Why not? The schools are set up with an agrarian calendar and teachers are responsible for teaching to a class as a unit. Time is fixed and the only variable is performance – some pass and others fail. And, if the persons who fail do not make up and achieve the proficiency that the test is measuring, they drift further and further behind. The consequences are numerous and punishing. How does this instill a love of learning? This approach does not take into account a truism: ‘all students can learn but they learn at different rates and have different preferential learning styles’.

Instead of asking the student to fit the administrative structure (i.e., the class and arbitrary time periods for learning subjects and achieving competencies), we must provide each student with the time and means to succeed. Rather than punish the student who learns more slowly than the arbitrarily chosen period, we must treat each student as the class.

We must find a way of doing this. Other industries have made similar changes* and it is now time for education to do the same.

*Take FedEx, who can tell you where any package is at any time. Look at banking, which is now available 24 hours a day through ATMs and you can go to almost any ATM to withdraw or deposit funds. Both industries invested in information and delivery systems to meet the needs of their clients rather than asking their clients to accommodate to a fixed structure. Now the automobile industry is enabling customers to order on demand rather than requiring them to accept whatever is available in the dealer’s lot. In the business world, however, there is competition that requires companies to adapt – education has not had this catalyst.

What is my vision and strategy for educational change?

I believe that we in education must make the investment to do the same for our clients, i.e., each student. What investment is needed?

There are three modes of instruction: 1) self-paced or CAI, 2) project or problem-solving and 3) discussion. Self-paced or CAI requires that each student have access to a computer and modem and access to the curriculum on a server on a 24/7 basis. Projects and problems should be relevant to students so they can relate to the given subject area.

For English and Math, we should implement CAI in the 1st grade (and continue thereafter). The reason English and Math are chosen is that these are the two cultural imperative languages. If you know these two languages and are motivated as a self-learner, you can teach yourself almost anything you want to learn. And, one of the goals of education is to create self-learners.

For all other subjects, the teacher can pose a project or problem that is relevant to the student. Once the problem is defined, the class can be broken down into groups of 4-5 students in order to research the solution to the problem. If complex, each of the groups may study an aspect of the problem. With these subjects, the student uses the computer as a research tool (after having learned to read). Students are taught to use search engines such as Google or Yahoo as well as the intranet made available by teachers gathering information relevant for the students.

Students working in a group learn cooperation, shared responsibility and communication (face-to-face as well as e-mail). Having produced a written solution to the problem utilizing the computer (power point) as a tool, they can then present to the class for discussion. They can also use email or a written report to other students as well as the teacher.

Arbitrary learning within fixed time periods would be eliminated, i.e., no 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades. Instead, students would be grouped chronologically with materials appropriate to their learning level and style using the CAI approach for English and Math, and the project/problem/discussion modes for other subjects. The projects given to the students match the level of English and Math competencies and are related to the students (their interests and their lives). For example, in 3rd grade, how would you study the amount of water that a plant needs to grow? I would utilize the students’ Math knowledge (learned through CAI) for science learning. Likewise, rather than studying history through memorization and chronology, it can be studied through problems based on the immediate environment for younger children and more abstract concepts in later grades.

What do we need to make this happen?
In order for this to be implemented, what do we need?

1) We need the people on board – parents, teachers, community leaders, etc.
2) We need the hardware – computers with modems and Internet access for each student.
3) We need the management system (many existing solutions can be adapted).
4) We need the curriculum – Computer Assisted Instructions (CAI) for Math and English and creative, relevant problems and projects for other subjects.
5) We need teacher training.

In order to begin to implement change, we need all of these things in place. In 2007, I would like to see a group of elementary and middle schools, and the high school into which they feed (a demonstration ‘zone’) of some size agree to adopt a vision where time is a variable and mastery what is expected from each student. A computer company can be found to donate (or the zone can buy) a laptop with a modem for each student. The zone needs to build an integrated management system in order to be responsive to what students do and how they learn. Part of the management system is administrative, part is the CAI component, and lastly, the management system needs to record and reflect the student’s learnings in non-CAI instruction (‘student portfolios’). The CAI component must be self-correcting and use artificial intelligence so that the component improves as more students utilize the program for English and Math. Teacher training is critical and must be done during the summer prior to implementation.

How do we make this happen? 

We know what needs to be done; this is the question that remains. I welcome your thoughts and comments and will share more of mine soon. Stay tuned.

Abe (29 July 2006)
Click to hear Dr. Fischler talk for three mintueswith Mario Llorente, educator from Cuba

Click here and go to the bottom of the page

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jeff Hutt, School Entrepreneur, meets with Dr. Abraham S. Fischler to discuss school-start up issues

Here is a series of 12 videos, taken in November 2012

Jeff Hutt and Abraham S. Fischler... 

Jeff is an entrepreneur who founded a language school in the Bahamas.   Dr. Fischler is a former president of Nova University (1970-1992)
"Could distance learning courses at Harvard and MIT take away from advanced placement courses in high school?"  Video 2

We have to educate kids to function in an industrial society....You have to read at a certain level...
Video 2

Q:  How do we get teachers to convert to Montessori style projects (and reduce lecture time)?

Video 3

"I asked principals to run a school within a school in Hartford and we videotaped the classes.  This was in 1967..."
Video 4

"they were prepared for the 8 hours on the Saturday..."  (procedures for running a distance education course in the 1980s
Video 5

Jeff Hutt:   An English language class should be like a good night out on the town. Video 6

"Teach English in the environment of the Bahamas through snorkeling and immersion in nature...."
Video 7 

"I brought the germ-free laboratory from Notre Dame..."
Video 8  

This is the 8th largest school district...

I'm willing to put in the time for no money to be left alone for five years.  I'll get the rest of the money I need to implement the system in the zone of innovation.
Video 9

For two years he had the control of the Senate and House.  He should have gone after job creation, not health care.  
Video 10

...they can get rid of a principal.
if you want to be a change agent, you need to deal with something that they want to buy into...

Video 11

The marine industry might be looking to take off...  You have to look for the niche, for the base.  
Jeff:   I'm looking at a concept of having people who want to study for two weeks but they want something special, so they are willing to go the extra distance. Video 12

...the budget was in the negative 4 million.  "Give me ten questions that I can ask the controller and I'll be back..."  Ed Mailman read the spreadsheet ... and gave me the questions.

I called my controller and I asked for answers to the questions.
That's how I learned "fund accounting."  Read the categories bottom up...   Video 13

Here is an online cuckoo clock...

Monday, March 24, 2014

How does a school create a project that every students will want to join to participate? (1) Give them a THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, (2) Invite each of them to work together or share individually their response to the THOUGHT OF THE DAY, (3) collect their ideas in an ebook, (4) publish the book on

What does every teacher want?  A project that inspires kids to join and dive into...
The goal of the session is to produce an ebook that is a collection of what you have studied together.

Each day’s “THOUGHT FOR THE DAY” is a chapter in the book.

The students each find a video and write a comment about how the video is a metaphor for what the thought for the day is.

Perhaps the THOUGHT is “Our Lives are what we make of them.”   The students can find a video that shows this theme and they can write a comment that goes onto the THOUGHT FOR THE DAY blog.   

I’m crying with joy when I read this video.   I cry with joy that I have found the moral and brain resilience to fight the thoughts of escape.   I embrace life and I want young people everywhere who are depressed and who feel trapped to see this video and become inspired.

That’s what I think about when I hear “Our lives are what we make of them.”  I’m so joyful for this moment and for the opportunity to serve and to see young people enjoy their discoveries in St. Malo.  thank you, Will  Wes and Noel.  --- Steve, a grateful student of Will Sutherland and

The students also read their statement onto a video (perhaps with a dramatic scene of St. Malo in the background, you don’t see the students, you just hear their voices over the wind)     Those “statement videos” can be uploaded on a channel so that viewers can join in the meditation and thought of the day.

THE END GOAL:  An ebook with links to each of the videos that the students recommend.

EDITING:  A teacher does the editing with the help of several students.  For example, in the project of May 2014, I asked every student to email me at LEAST three times a week with their THOUGHT FOR THE DAY thoughts. Instructions:   The students should record you reading the thought for the day.  They should UPLOAD the videos and share their thoughts.   Then let me assemble the ebook.   They can email their recommended video that they find on youtube to

when they are NOT in port, they can collect their thoughts and when they get into port, they have their homework

1.  find a video that summarizes for them the thought of the day
2.  write a commentary in an email to me
3.  post the commentary as a comment on my blog  
if there is no blog post for the thought of the day, please send me your thought for the day, Will, and I’ll generate a blog post that they students can then make their comments on 
4.  READ their commentary onto VIDEO… showing the scenery of St Malo and environs…  if the students are moved, they can READ their commentary onto a video and then post the video on youtube.   Then send me the link and we’ll get some social media working on the post.

We are here to serve each other.   
that ebook can be posted and eventually be translated.   why not?

let’s touch people with the thoughts of teenagers.
we know that teens will look at and read the thoughts of other teenagers.

How does a school create a project that every students will want to join to participate?  
(1) Give them a THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, 
(2) Invite each of them to work together or share individually their response to the THOUGHT OF THE DAY, 
(3) collect their ideas in an ebook, 
(4) publish the book on

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Do you have the Skill and Will" Tony Wagner talks about two ingredients in the School of the Future...

Listen in Minute 2
Listen to what Tony Wagner says in this presentation about Skill and Will

The world cares about what you can do with what you know.

Do you have the Skill and the Will?

Knowledge is necessary but it is not sufficient...

Oh, and this video is just so cool.  Can you see the "salt fall"?  (it's like a waterfall of liquid salt) in Antarctica

What's the difference between Engineering and "Good Science"? Cliff Stoll (a digital hero) ... "Good science is having a question and not knowing the answer... Good science is good entertainment (better than TV)"

I was substituting in a class recently and I had four computers available.  I put up Traveler IQ challenge, and a couple of students got involved.

The kids were shouting across the room, led by a student who has a hearing deficit. "I have to shout.  I can't hear."  Her interpretation of the deficit  gave her an excuse not to do work that would improve her ability to complete worksheets.  She did not read closelyk or well because she was lazy and she didn't ahve "resilience" to complete a task.  So I tried to distract her and the rest of the class with the computer.  I took down names to follow up with parents later, but the real issue was "Can the teacher come up with a list of engaging videos?"  I had access to Youtube... so why didn't I use that access to engage the students?

Well, I have a block.  I thought, "I want to show them how to make a blog."  I was also trying to get two students through and so I was stuck on the idea that they should all want to complete work on the computer...  How about  (That's only about collaboration and completeing a math skill.   Again, my mind was so focused on meting the needs of the school that I neglected to think about the students).   I showed a video about making a website, but no student stayed engaged.  I need a list of videos to capture their attention and inspire one kid to say, "oo, look at that, Esmeralda.  Hey, shut up, I want to hear what they're saying on that video...Hey, guys, come over here and look at this..."
Here is my list for the next time I get stuck.
John Green's series of history in rapid-fire delivery
The Aurora Borealis
My walk through Vaison la Romaine
The flood in 1992
How to win at
Antarctica and the "fall" of salt
 Five names for ice

Dennis Yuzenas (tour of his classroom in 9 minutes)
Click here
Tour of an office
Interview with Dr. Fischler (hmmmm, can that be engaging to teenagers?  Yes, if you show them how to respect an older person
Click here
by asking questions and recording the answers for posterity)
How about introducing students to Teacherman Robert Maclachlan?
    • HD

"I'm going to find an answer this problem..."   That's engineering.

Good science is having a question and not knowing the answer...  Good science is good entertainment (better than TV)"  -  Cliff Stoll
  • The French Revolution: Crash Course World History #29

    In which John Green examines the French Revolution, and gets into how and why it differed from the American Revolution.
    • HD
    • CC
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    Crash Course World History is now available on DVD! Visit to buy a set for your home or classroom.
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    • CC
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    In which John Green explores exactly when Rome went from being the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Here's a hint: it ...
    • HD
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  • The Constitution, the Articles, and Federalism: Crash Course US History #8

    In which John Green teaches you about the United States Constitution. During and after the American Revolutionary War, the ...

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