Monday, February 24, 2014

Two Ways to Rethink Engagement

David Price, in his recent book Open, discusses how all systems, including schools, are changing in very fundamental ways. He believes that the historical construct of classroom learning is disappearing, while passion-based connected learning is pushing its way into the best schools. He points to the fact that schools that are focusing on engaging and empowering students in their learning are now seeing the huge benefits for kids. Technology can play a key role in building these bridges beyond the classroom. Stories emerge almost everyday about teachers getting their kids connected with the world using the technology tools.The partner to this digital connection is the connection that comes from service to the community. Having students serve as community changemakers is another powerful instructional tool for engagement. By looking for ways to couple these learning strategies together, we can continue to build excellence and maintain the change momentum and build an open space of learning for all.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow Learning

Last week, I had an opportunity to listen to Daniel Wilson from Project Zero and the Harvard Graduate School of Education discuss one of the most difficult, but most essential pieces of learning that we can bring to kids. It is the idea of Slow Learning. Slow Learning allows our bodies to pause, observe, reflect, and be present in the learning ecosystem that surrounds us. He pointed to an excellent project that they are supporting with a journalist that is walking around the world over seven years, listening to story, reporting on all that surrounds him, and sharing the experience with the world. There are great K-12 resources at Wilson also posed a question that stuck with me around how teachers approach their learning. Consider this. How would you teach differently if your students took the tests for your class one year after the instruction? Would it change your craft? Would you go slower to go faster?

Agency by Design

My next series of blog posts are a sharing of the ideas, resources, and more from an incredible opportunity that I had through the Martin Institute as a Martin Fellow. Last week was the Project Zero Perspectives conference in Memphis provided by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Much of the focus surrounded the Visual Thinking Strategies work at Harvard, but it extended to a number of their projects to transform K-12 learning. 

The best professional development for me these days allows for growth of self, growth of network, and growth of the learning spaces that I'm attempting to make better. This experience was definitely three for three. 

Part 1: Makerspaces

As more and more schools are looking at how they can transform spaces into their schools into opportunity for kids to make and design, the Making Things Happen blog seems like a great resource for schools looking for a network of learners surrounding making. Jen Ryan from Harvard supports this work through a project called Agency by Design that looks to bring the best idea of the maker movement to schools around the country. Watch her thoughts on the importance of making on the TED talk below.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Fresh Educational Philosophy

Making, Designing, Exploring, Playing, and Engaging Digitally...that's my new school vision. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Allow Learning to Change Your Mind

A large group of teachers from throughout the area have a great opportunity to learn more about technology integration this week at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference, METC. This annual event gives educators an opportunity to think about how technology can be used differently in the classroom. When presented with these learning opportunities, it is easy to get caught in the trap of asking what will be different on Monday after attending a conference, training, or professional development session. There always seems to be the pressure for immediate return on investment when adult learners return from their time away from the classroom. I would encourage everyone, especially those attending METC this week, to begin to shift that mindset. Learning takes time to soak in. Learning that transfers to sustainable classroom practices takes time. Learning is a process. The next time that you have a chance to grow and learn don't feel the panic to implement, but do allow yourself to shift the way that you look at things and consider truly shifting the routines and habits that you have based on this new knowledge, so that your instruction grows in a sustainable way.