It’s been a while. I’ve been reading, and writing, and listening, but not here. I’ve been watching the EducationBridges.net Elgg, working on a web site for a friend’s charter school, and Arvind and I have begun webcasting again at EdTechTalk.com.
But what I’ve been working hardest on is the day job. Rolling out 18 new SmartBoard rooms, 30 Tablet PCs, and a new community portal web site. We’ve really pushed the professional development model for faculty, and those Tablet PC ‘Fellows’ are really changing their teaching to create more interesting and effective classrooms. Today I met with two of our Tablet PC fellows, and in both conversations, the fellows were reflecting on their learning, and thus reflecting on the learning of their students. The conversations are so exciting. One fellow said, “I’m really excited to use the Tablet in a way that will speak to some of the students that I don’t teach to during class discussions.” That’s what it’s all about. It’s really not about the technology, but using a tool to enhancing the learning that happens in the classroom. That type of comment is what makes the past four weeks of intense work pay off. I went home with a good feeling today!
Two more things… Tomorrow at 1:00 pm EST, Arvind and I are interviewing Fred Bartels , a most inspirational educator and the creator of the School Computing Wiki. Please join us at http://www.edtechtalk.com/chat.
Lastly, tomorrow afternoon I begin working with our Math Department on Lesson Study. I am very honored and excited to be part of this group of faculty who will be observing a faculty member teach the same lesson multiple times and then work on making it better through conversation. Now that’s collaboration.
Until Next time…
During the past few months, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about Information and Media Literacy — I believe that this is one of the most concrete reasons to implement a laptop or 1 to 1 program in a school. To be responsible citizens in the 21st Century, students need to be ethical, life-long learners. To do so, they need to be information and media literate. The need to be fluent in digital and print.
David Warlick was visiting a laptop school and hit the nail on the head in this post :
Bottom line? 1:1 does not provide all the answers. In fact, it provokes lots of new questions, which is the approach of the school’s chief administrator, Stuart McCathie. He believes in, promotes quite eloquently, and offers lots of examples for, facilitating more powerful learning by asking a different kind of question. What occurred to me, as he was talking, was that most of our questions ask for answers. McCathie is suggesting questions that ask for conversations. Engaged in conversation, students become responsible to a community for what they find and learn. Answering a question is merely between the student and the teacher.
I am ever more impressed by the almost overwhelming challenges of working in a 1:1 teaching/learning environment. It requires so many shifts, most of them subtle, but no less difficult for a teacher — even young teachers. Even a first year teacher has 12+ years of experience in traditional classrooms. The challenges are enormous — but we simply have no choice!
I left even more convinced that contemporary literacy can be a potent
angle to make these shifts from, that it isn’t about the new tools on
students desks, but the new access to information and the new abilities
to produce information. The answer, I believe, can be as simple as The Beacon School’s
approach of simply saying, “At this point, no student work will be
turned in on paper. Everything will be done digitally.” It’s a focus on
the nature of the information, not the shape of the pencil.
2 Cents Worth » Another Missed Opportunity
He’s right — we have no choice — and we need to focus on contemporary literacy. And what better way to teach our students to be 21st Century Learners than to model this type of learning ourselves in a 1 to 1 program. Cheers to David for putting this so well.
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We now have a logo and a favicon (Thanks to Mark Penny) and a great conversation happening about using mapping mashups within 6-12 classes.
Check this all out at the Education Bridges Elgg.
On a post on EductionBridges.net, Jo McLeay asks, “What does it mean to be a teacher in the 21st Century?” This morning, I listened to our first few webcast’s from www.webcastademy.net to try to pick one for podcasting on Friday — as we’re on vacation — and the concept of a 21st Century Teacher comes up all the time. We specifically discussed this in show #5.
So what is a 21st Century Teacher? One that is flexible, collaborative, research based, knows the learning styles of their students, teaches to different learning styles and ability levels.
I’d also like to point out that we have a huge need for 21st Century Educational Leadership. Those leaders must have a clear understanding of the goals of their institutions, get the administrative hurdles out of their teachers way so that they can do what they do best. They must also clearly know what their teachers are responsible for and create accountability within their schools for students and teachers.
I guess the more I think of it, the more being a great teacher, administrator, or student are very similar. Know what your goals are, create a road map to those goals, practice the skills needed to get there, assess where you are along the way, and finally create a final product. That works for lesson planning, designing schools, or completing a science project, no?
All of these go into creating ethical, life-long learners — My goal for a 21st Century Citizen.
The beginning of a conversation.
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A few weeks ago, on the ISED-L Listserv, someone asked for a site that was a MySpace for teachers. I had been discussing Elgg with Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow for a while, now. Arvind and I talked about online communities for educational technologists in our 21st Century Learning #7.
So the time has come. Last week, I emailed a proposal to Dave Cormier and Jeff Lebow at World Bridges and they gave us http://elgg.educationbridges.net . I set up an elgg installation and we’ve got 19 users right now.
What’s the point of this community? Here’s my purpose statement:
The purpose of this site is to create an environment for educators to collaborate about teaching and learning in the 21st Century. We at Education Bridges believe that to make the world a better place, educators need to share their best practices/lessons learned that are research as well as experience based practices.
So go to http://elgg.educationbridges.net — sign up, fill in your profile, and check out the View All Posts link under Your Blog to see what people are saying. Also, follow some of dave cormier’s beginner elgg suggestions — make a community (or two!). Start socializing. Start learning. I look forward to seeing what happens.