Public or Private?

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve had some great opportunities to learn recently. (See What I Did On My Summer Vacation).  I’ve also read some great books and am busy trying to assimilate all of that, along with the many conversations I have had with many, many educators! So as I’m thinking (and thinking and thinking and thinking. . . ), I’m trying to figure how all of this is going to fit into my classroom, my school, my behaviors with peers, etc. for this new school year. My main struggle right now is with microblogging, or setting up a community online.

Let me explain. . .

I use Twitter daily for professional networking and have learned a tremendous amount through it as well as met many people I now consider colleagues and friends.  For me, Twitter does indeed allow me to participate in the groundswell, and it feeds my need to “connect, create, stay in touch and help each other.” (Groundswell, p. 49.)  I have, as stated in my blog, Twitter Makes Me, become more world-wise through my connections with people all over the world.

Our local school system has embraced Twitter in many ways, and we have had a very quick influx of our educators join.  Some have found it incredibly useful, others have found it confusing. It is clear that our Superintendent and School Board expect us to teach using today’s technologies,and they have supported us doing so by opening social networking sites (such as wikis and Twitter.) That’s not to say anything is mandated or forced–just encouraged through modeling and usage.  So, a fair number of us use Twitter for building/maintaining parts of our PLN.

Yesterday an instructional coach started a Yammer group for our district. I can’t figure out whether that’s necessary or not–not whether it’s good or bad, but whether it’s necessary.  See, we already have SchoolNet established in our district. SchoolNet provides us a place to set up groups, have threaded conversations, follow people and be followed (they’re called colleagues) and  do much of what I think my limited exposure to Yammer  shows it can do. We’re literally one day before teachers return–and invitations are being sent out to folks to join Yammer–rather than encouraging folks to get involved more deeply in the many resources we already have on SchoolNet.

Here is a {SOMEWHAT EDITED} part of an email I sent to a buddy today talking this one through with some of my questions:

A question asked over Twitter the other day (from an Alan November talk Kevin Jarrett was sitting in, I think) was “What does a Lifelong Learner in the 21st century look like?”

Do our teachers know?

I think you do, because you see the power of Twitter—which is simply ONE tool for engaging us in conversations with educators and others ALL OVER THE WORLD.  You have spent time building a PLN that encompasses ppl outside of your tiny world of our school system.

And, what bothers me the absolute MOST about responses to my questions about Yammer? It wasn’t the defensiveness (or perceived defensiveness).  It was the response that this was SAFE—it was all about being in a situation with people you already know—one said-”I like this better because I know you guys.”  another:—”It’s NOT a closed system—anyone in K-12 can join and invite others”  (Unsaid—BUT ONLY FROM our school system. How is that NOT closed?)

Someone else then goes on to ask-”who knew you could use schoolnet this way?”  DID ANYONE START A CONVERSATION ASKING SOMETHING LIKE: Hey, guys, if we were to get teachers on a smaller scale using something like twitter, what tools are out there? How can we get out teachers involved in social networking on a smaller scale for those whom Twitter will overwhelm?

Once again, leaders have thrown something out there that could overwhelm. . . Yeah, I understand experimentation—but as coaches—as leaders in our division, who looked at the BIG picture here? And who is thinking about how to transfer ppl over to Schoolnet, now that you (collective “you”, NOT you personally) KNOW Schoolnet does this?

PLUS, Schoolnet allows me, as a teacher, to join (or lurk on) a conversation about the “Daily 5” with my local peers and when I hear something, I can go to Twitter to ask @Linda704 or @AngelaStockman, both of whom I know know a LOT about literacy, to join our conversation—or say to another Twitter buddy, “hey, we’re talking about those kind of resources here—can you join us?”  Then I can slowly introduce others to our teachers and SHOW them the power of a world wide PLN.

Yammer does not allow that-it IS closed . . .

I go back to my question—because I have taken it from Alan and made it mine—What does a lifelong learner look like in the 21st century?  I say she’s NOT looking for closed communities. I say she’s not looking for safety in her local peers.  I say she’s not looking ONLY to learn from local people.  I say he IS looking to connect and contribute, looking for learning and wanting to know how to do that safely on the WWW, and needing to feel honored and respected by more than a local community.  I believe our learners are looking to “connect, create, stay in touch and help each other.” (Groundswell, p. 49.)

What have you said about Twitter? It validates your thinking, it has helped you grow, etc.

Does Yammer do that?  Yes, on a small scale—but does it allow us as teacher leaders to paint pictures of global connectedness through modeling and bringing those others in?  No—but Schoolnet does.

Did anyone explore Edmodo?  It’s another microblogging tool that also could be used with kids—so we could be modeling as well as sharing a tool teachers could then use with kids.  Can Yammer be used for microblogging or grouping conversations with kids?  Can Schoolnet?

I don’t know the answer to either, but my guess is Yammer, NO–SchoolNet, possibly.

These are the kinds of things we, as teacher leaders, need to think through before we jump into something. . .

Am I advocating jumping ship on Yammer?  Absolutely not—it looks like it’s growing quickly, and that’s a good thing– but slowing down and having some conversations—honest conversations–about what we want and looking at purpose FIRST, not letting it emerge, may be necessary. Then guiding invitations on Yammer may (or may not) be helpful.

Thoughts?

For me, it’s not an either/or. . . or good/bad–it’s a matter of making life manageable and trying to minimize all the different ways it pulls us. . .and if we already have an avenue for teachers talking to one another, why are we encouraging the use of yet a different tool rather than involve them more deeply in the one we have and share the potential?  As the teacher above said, “Who knew SchoolNet could do that?”

And, the proponents of Yammer say that involving teachers FIRST in a private network may be the stepping stone some need to then try a larger network such as Twitter. That sounds logical, but is there any research to support that, or even anyone’s experience?

I can’t find any. Do any of you have any research OR personal stories that say that’s true?

The power of MY PLN is the diversity–the various viewpoints coming from all grades, all countries, all kinds of schools–it’s often the differences that make me think the most. .  not the like-minded folks using the same curriculum and same materials who are in situations similar to mine. . .

So,

YOU, my readers, see my confusion, my questions, my wonderings. . .

When we introduce/encourage the use of social networking to adults, in an organized, big way, what questions should we ask ourselves? Is “public or private” one of them?

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Last summer I was just beginning to use social networking tools.  I hadn’t begun my blog, hadn’t joined a bunch of wikis, and had more free time, so I was exploring and getting to know Tweeters to follow and talk with. I spent a great deal of my summer sitting in front of my computer learning from the great minds I found sharing online. I lived through a number of conferences vicariously through others’ tweets.  I learned about online conferencing and streaming-and was totally impressed with the amount of work people do to share with other educators. I built a personal/professional learning network online, making friends all over the world, and became more aware of world issues. I had an amazing time and went back to school raving about the new connections I was making, and had made. It was an eye-opening summer where I mostly “took” and learned from the connections I found.

Summer09  was extremely different. I was busy all the time, so didn’t have those lazy summer days to sit in front of my computer and learn from the HUGE number of great minds online. However, I attended a ton of conferences in real life and got to meet many of my twitterfolks.

In June, I began a six day workshop in my county about assessing critical thinking. Several of the teachers involved were twitterfolk and the tweeting we had done throughout the year changed the way we interacted, I believe—there was a level of familiarity, comfort and trust that may not have been there a year ago. One of the reasons I love twitter and the ability it gives me to interact with others is that I have been able to connect to like-minded people and learn from others’ differing perspectives as well. Twitter so reduces isolation for many of us! I’ve watched @mtechman blossom into a GREAT online leader and thinker on Twitter, and consider her a good friend now—I barely knew her before Twitter, despite the fact we had attended meetings and emailed each other.

At the end of June, early July, I attended NECC in D.C and got to meet MANY of my Twitter people. I loved seeing how they were so true to their online personas—see @BenGrey’s post about meeting Tweeps at NECC—that one particularly resonated with me.  I presented at NECCUnplugged (and was streamed!) and participated in a panel discussion organized by @K_Shelton (Ken) with 6 folks I had only met online before. All of those experiences made me even more aware of the power of an online network. (And, I’ll share something few people know—I decided to try an experiment.  Since my county didn’t pay for me to attend,  I decided I would see JUST how far the networking would suffice to make the conference worthwhile.  I went  to NO sessions. I used my time there for that networking, meeting people, conversing, learning, eavesdropping on other conversations (blatantly, so no offense was taken) and reading the tweets from NECC09.) My time was WELL spent, and I didn’t have to sit through uninteresting sessions or walk out of ones, as some of my Tweeps did.

I also met Sheila Teri, from VA Beach face to face at  NECC.  She and I skyped with several classes last year and have expanded those experiences into a Skype Across VA wiki this year, and we also have buddy classes in first grade skyping each month.  I also have begun another wiki, USA Fun Facts with Paula Naugle (who is from Lousiana) and we have 12 other states participating with us. Both of these connections were made over Twitter.

The second week of July, I participated in a local conference, EDUSTAT, which turned into a national and even international one through the online participation that happened because of Twitter. I got to know and spend some time with @chadratliff and @jonbecker, who attended from their areas.  MANY of our local folks joined Twitter that week and are now quite active!  (@classroots, @trevorprzyuski, @billsterrett, to name a few.) The connections made that week just keep growing:

  • see @classroots blog and the accompanying wiki he and I began to join a conversation about authentic engagement
  • @chadratliff is joining Albemarle County as a Central Office leader—can’t wait to work with him in his new job in Innovation!
  • @trevorprzyuski’s blog, 7 Things I learned this summer triggered this blog. . I had had it floating ‘round for a while, just couldn’t get going. His unblocked me!

The last week of July I went to the Building Learning Communities conference in Boston with a team from my school system. The work as a team there had begun in early summer, and continues now. I am part of a great LOCAL team of thinkers whose charge is (as our Sup’t @pammoran said,) to think about how we enroll our colleagues in innovation!

BLC09 was another amazing experience of meeting Tweeps, and I attended my first EdubloggerCon, a full day of learning that was organized by @lizbdavis (Liz Davis) and @lthumann (Lisa Thumann). I had met Angela Maiers face to face at NECC, and, while at BLC, @AngelaMaiers, @BeckyFisher73 and I began planning a two day workshop we hope to share with Virginia’s ASCD affiliate, VASCD. I spent time with @TeachaKidd (Lee Kolbert) and ALL of those ladies are just as lovely—and SMART–in real life as they are online.

The beginning of August, ASCD informed @fisher1000 and me our proposal to present had been accepted. Mike works in Buffalo, NY—we’ve only met online, but will be co-presenting at ASCD in San Antonio in March! The idea to put in a proposal began when we were building/sharing/conversing about the Visual Bloom’s schemata and the accompanying web sites, Blooms Rubrics, Ideas for the Visual and Professional Practice.

Then August 5, I attended the Google Teacher Academy at Google Headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, to become a Google Certified Teacher. Again, I met tweeps and got to talk to people in real life I had developed relationships with online. I learn so much from the smart people I have found online, and am continually amazed at the new folks I find and who find me. (Thanks, Ken, (@K_Shelton) for urging me to apply!)

The Google experience is amazing—my one regret from the day was that I didn’t get to talk to more people. (Thanks, @ScottElias for recommending Fat Tire and @Wfryer for starting the beer drinking that late afternoon!)  Michael Wacker was my real treat for the day, though, as his Colorado hospitality knows no bounds. Now, @Mwacker and I are collaborating on a proposal to the ISTE 2010 conference. Want to add your 2 cents worth? Join our brainstorming at http://mwpwiste10.wikispaces.com.

And, in the past week, I have worked with and met our new teachers at our New Teacher Academy, where the sharing was just unprecedented, and participated in a 2 hour debriefing about BLC09 with our local team, where the conversations continue over our email.

Last fall I attended the k12online conference–this year I am applying to present AND I am on the PR committee with my usafunfacts friend, Paula (@plnaugle) and Lisa Parisi and Pat Woessner, all online buddies.)

BUT, the most memorable thing about this summer for me will be the fact that I tweeted during the opportunities I had, so others could sit in the comfort of THEIR homes and attend them vicariously through Twitter.

I hope I gave this summer as much as I took last summer. . .

I know I’ve learned so much in both, and am a different person due to that sharing, taking, learning, teaching, growing and twittering!

Engagement and Quality Work

Chad Sansing, (@classroots on Twitter) is a brilliant educator in my school division.  I have known of Chad for many years (he’s been middle school, I am elementary, so we’ve had little opportunity to interact personally, but we’ve met.) During the recent PD opportunity, Edustat, we joined each other’s online PLN and I am thrilled to have him as part of mine.  I highly recommend him to others–he’s an educator who interacts and is a great thinker!  Recently, he posted a definition of authentic engagement on his website, Classroots.org

Chad had run an earlier version of this by several people on our county email list and received some feedback and additional resources (posted on our wiki), and then he synthesized what he was thinking.  Part of his post and my response is below. There are many of us exploring engagement in many ways.  Some of us are using the hashtag #AE on Twitter to thread the conversation.  We have begun a wiki, Authentic Engagement. We invite you to join our conversation and involve others… that’s why I am cross-posting my response to Chad on MY blog–to hopefully get my readers to go see and participate in Chad’s site and join our wiki.  🙂

Disagree with me, add to my knowledge, share your resources on engagement, think WITH us!

The more we think together and share our questions and thoughts, looking at context and quality of student work and how to be better teachers, the more we’ll all learn.  🙂

Chad’s blog excerpt:

Authentic engagement is a powerful means to the end of learning.  Authentic engagement connects students to content through real-world work that allows for social learning, inquiry, and products that contribute to students’ communities.

Characteristics of Authentic Engagement

  1. Students master content through project-based, inquiry-driven learning with access to multiple types of media and outside experts.
  2. Students work and learn from one another collaboratively and socially.
  3. Students evaluate for and select the best tools for their work and are free to use them.
  4. Students’ work is published for an authentic audience outside the classroom.
  5. Students receive feedback on their work from experts before and after publication.
  6. Students revise work until it shows mastery of content and follows experts’ guidelines.
  7. Students’ work benefits their community.

My response:

Chad,
I appreciate the references above gathered in one place, especially because I am not familiar with the Bob Peterson one, so I now have something new to read.  🙂

The different terms, quality work, engagement, authentic engagement, etc. are all variations on a theme, but I don’t think are synonyms. The definitions of quality work have to do with the product. The definitions of engagement have to do with the student’s attitudes, habits of mind while involved and intensity/persistence/passion about the task.

So, for me, it’s not about engaging with experts inside or outside of my classroom for kids to be authentically engaged in learning. That’s about authentic WORK. It’s not about benefiting the community–that, too is about the work. So, I wouldn’t agree that your 4, 5, 6, and 7 describe authentic engagement so much as they do authentic work/products.

For me, engagement is all tied up in the level of effort the student is willing to invest in the task. So I agree with Schlechty’s statements:


• The student sees the activity as personally meaningful.
• The student’s level of interest is sufficiently high that he persists in the face of difficulty.
• The student finds the task sufficiently challenging that she believes she will accomplish something of worth by doing it.
• The student’s emphasis is on optimum performance and on “getting it right.”
(MY addition–this does not mean getting it right on the test, but getting it right for oneself–truly understanding the content, the material, the process, the work so that it becomes a part of your skill and knowledge repertoire.)

It’s not about compliance, as Marzano seems to say when he says engagement is the kid doing what the teacher asks.  It’s not about doing work for outside experts or even the teacher. That stuff is about worthwhile work, quality work, important tasks or whatever you want to call them, but those are all about the product, not the student’s engagement. (Now does worthwhile work (such as that described in 4, 5, 6, 7 above) engage the student?  Absolutely.. .but it’s not necessary in the definition of engagement.)

For me, engagement is about personalized, meaningful learning for (mostly) intrinsic reasons–persisting and persevering through challenge and difficulty to develop deep understanding and increased process skills.

Your thoughts?

Organized Tweeting? Is that a good thing?

Recently I attended Edustat, a national conference held in my school district put on by UVA, my school system and Schoolnet. It was a unique conference experience for me, partly because my Superintendent had invited several people I tweet with, Chad Ratliff (@csratliff) and Jon Becker (@jonbecker), and partly because I had spent the prior two weeks reading Jay McTighe‘s book, Schooling by Design and had previously read The Global Achievement Gap.  Both Jay McTighe and Tony Wagner were invited speakers. The goal of this conference for Albemarle teams was to basically learn, talk, and figure out how to take what we learned back to our schools and make a difference.

Chad’s attendance was a catalyst for me, because he is a questioner, a thinker, a listener and currently NOT a practicing teacher, but an entrepreneur. His constant questions had me thinking all week about our structure, our systems and the teaching and learning that happens in Albemarle. The fact that Jon Becker drove in daily from 70 miles away also had me thinking–what was it about this conference that interested a professor from a nearby college? He was obviously engaged, and he, too, asked questions and conversed about the topics being discussed. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts about it at some time in his blog, Educational Insanity.

The uniqueness for me was coming in with high levels of expectations for learning (I really liked both Schooling By Design and The Global Achievement Gap), high levels of expectations for engaging in great conversation with my colleagues (both local and my Twitter buddies) and an air of excitement because Becky Fisher (@beckyfisher73 on Twitter), with the blessing of our Superintendent, (@pammoran on Twitter) had organized people to tweet and blog throughout the conference, and I was one of those. I was looking forward to being a catalyst for conversations among my Twitter following as well as engaging new local folks in tweeting.

What happened I should have expected. Twitter is always viral, and I should have known it would take off. . .

Those of us initially tweeting (@pammoran, @beckyfisher73, @mtechman, @csratliff, @jacatlett, me) involved MANY folks from outside of our county on Twitter.  The Edustat hashtag was followed by folks from all over, and as we were streaming the sessions, people from three continents and all over the US were watching. Because of that interest from outside, many of our local shakers and doers became tweeters and they were voracious about tweeting out what the presenter was saying and asking quick questions–reflective questions we should-and will- return to later.

I simply couldn’t keep up with my usual twitterstream, the presentation, the #edustat hashtag tweets AND another stream (the TED conference) I had going at the same time.  Twittering wasn’t a conversation as much as it became a place to report what the presenter was saying in both the Edustat hashtag stream and the TED stream. The fast tweeting caused me, at least, to back off and try just to keep up with reading and listening and responding to questions outside folks were asking.

The Twitter use definitely evolved over the three days of the conference and some of our local folks became quite hooked on it. (I am going to school tomorrow to answer some of my principal’s questions, in fact!) As a county, we have begun to use another Twitter hashtag, AE, (for authentic engagement) to continue some of the face to face conversations begun at the conference. As a county, many of our teacher leaders now have a feel for the impact of a PLN that is not simply local.

As a county, we have been transformed by our Twitter experiences.

It certainly made a difference when the superintendent, Pam Moran, (@pammoran on Twitter) asked her folks to use and experience a tool that she believes is powerful for teaching and learning.  It certainly made a difference when attendees began to realize we had an international audience.  It certainly made a difference when some of our administrators and teachers got on Twitter and saw the vast amount of information being shared. It made an even bigger difference when they began to USE Twitter.

So, Organized Tweeting-is it a good thing?  I say yes. .  .

And, thank you, Pam and Becky, for designing the task so our folks sought out the tool, the instruction and the learning!!

Parallel Play or Collaboration?

I am struggling with something I think many of my PLN folks are thinking about. . .and that’s HOW to improve our work, HOW to change what happens in our schools, and HOW to meet the needs of contemporary learners. Ben Grey introduces himself on his blog this way: My name is Ben Grey, and I am but one of the many. The many who are looking for change. The many who are engaging in dynamic discussions. The many who think there could be more to the way we engage education. I am also on that quest.

Dean Shareski wrote a post “My Big Fat Brain Dump” and he talked about how education conferences need to change to meet the needs of those of us struggling with these kinds of thoughts. Ira Socol Jen Wagner, Scott McLeod, Will Richardson, Becky Fisher, David Truss, Liz B. Davis, Michael Wacker, Miguel Guhlin, Paul R Wood, Scott Merrick, Jon Becker, Mike Fisher, Michele Bourgeois, Tom Woodward, John Mikulski and a multitude of others have written or talked about this topic of change in many ways.

Today , I received a tweet with a link to a YOUTUBE video by a 17 year old about  The iSchool Initiative. Kids can paint these pictures. Why aren’t we educators better at doing so for each other?

Here’s MY backstory: I have been using wikis with kids for two years now–really bright kids, really motivated kids, really thoughtful kids who WANT to learn and do well.They love having the opportunity to work on wikis and clearly “get” the potential! (See wikiworld.)

But my wikis–THEIR wikis– are pockets and pools and islands of isolation. . . They’re examples of parallel play at best, NOT collaboration. As the teacher, I own that outcome. I didn’t do enough ahead of time, I didn’t set up the structures, I didn’t paint the pictures for kids so that the work NEEDED collaborative efforts and so I didn’t get it.

I participated in several online, “collaborative” wikis this year as well. One was where we shared our writing based around a common text. Another I created, (And To Think) where kids also shared products around a common text/author, Dr. Seuss. Again, these I see as parallel play.

I skyped with several classes this year–about the Dr. Seuss wiki, about our state of VA– and found it fascinating to watch kids’ reactions to talking to other kids from “far” away. However, the interaction was bizarre. . very traditional, in that kids raised their hands to talk or ask questions, teachers (on both sides, including me) were CLEARLY in charge, and most interactions/questions were designed ahead of time. Again, parallel play in my mind, NOT collaborative.  I OWN these behaviors and outcomes, as, again, I didn’t do enough ahead of time, I didn’t set up the structures, I didn’t ask enough questions of my skyping teacher friends to make these experiences more than that.

So, I’d like to see models-and asked last night on Twitter “I’m wondering what is the most interactive /interdependent KID authored/written/produced wiki you know? Examples?”

I got no responses.

NOT ONE!

I got several DMs or replies from folks asking me to share the results of my request, so here it is.

NO one named a truly collaborative kid wiki.

So where are they?

Update:

@ellsbeth sent a couple of links this AM: “look up gaming wikis like http://bit.ly/lnavg & http://bit.ly/3s8QW Kids contribute.”

What do you think?

backchannels–silently in their heads

I have a colleague, Nancy, who is part of the county team going to BLC09.  I think she’s a personality type called an owl–she listens carefully in group conversations, speaks rarely, but when she does, what she says is incredibly insightful, thought-provoking and often downright brilliant.

At our recent team conversation (see previous post) we were talking about the conference themes and which ones we’d like to center on, how to go about it, and looking at a few logistics.  Some of us in the group are avid tweeters, others have joined but not gotten into it, and others don’t even know it. Some of us have experienced conferences with backchannels going, some of us haven’t.  I spoke to the power of backchannels (even had to define and describe what a back channel was) and was raving about how cool it was going to be to experience the backchannels at this particular conference.  I talked a bit about how some of my twitterverse has shared about using backchannels in the classroom, and people were asking great questions and thinking about it. We talked about how this is a contemporary skill/practice and how we need to think through how this can be done in the classroom.  As almost always happens when a group of innovators are thinking about how to move others along the continuum of technology use, someone said something about how teachers would say, “We don’t want them having backchannels in the classrooms.”

Then Nancy zinged: Instead, we want to them to have it silently happening in their brain.

SILENTLY HAPPENING IN THEIR BRAIN.

Does that not run counter to anything we know about learning?  Does it not run counter to Vygotsky, to Bloom, to any name you can name in education writing? Does that not take the social out of learning? I don’t know about you, but when I can talk about something I am learning, it makes more sense to me.  I make meaning out of it more quickly and more deeply. Shouldn’t we be providing our students that opportunity as well?

No wonder our kids are bored stiff and give schooling no quality points in their world. What gets the points?  The social parts of school. . ..LUNCH. . RECESS. . .IN BETWEEN CLASSES. . .the classes where teachers set up collaborative projects, conversations, activities. . .

Maybe if we made school more social and made it NOT about “happening silently  in their brains” we would get more buy in.  Maybe if we listened more and talked less. . .maybe if we gave them the tools and supported what THEY want to do with it, then maybe, just maybe the majority of our kids would say they loved learning, rather than they hate school.

What about those backchannels?

We need them to keep it from

HAPPENING SILENTLY IN THEIR BRAIN.

What about the “backchannels”?

Recently I was one of a group of people in our system invited by our Superintendent to go to Alan November’s BLC 09 conference as a team to bring what we can back. I was honored and thrilled–and even more so a few days later when I was also invited to be part of the practitioner’s strand and present at the Building Learning Communities conference. So I am going–as part of an austere group of educators from our county–and I am presenting!

Last week, the group going was called together to begin to pre-plan and strengthen our own community of learners who will converse, listen, think and learn together before we go, while we are there, and after we return. Our team consists of some amazing educators, many of whom are on Twitter–@BeckyFisher73, @jacatlett, (Janelle)  @dld1, (Donna DeGroat) @dharding3, (Diane Harding) and Beth Costa, Kristen Williams, Nancy McCullen, Christa Livermon and John Hunter. Many of these folks are our new instructional coaches (Christa and Janelle will be in my region) and I am looking forward to going with this group.

Last week, we talked about our goals in going:

Where do we, as a school system, go next?  As we incorporate more 21st century tools, what do we want to accomplish? What can we bring back?

When many of us saw Alan November at VASCD, we heard him talk about new literacies and redefining or recognizing new literacies–just what IS 21st century learning? How do we ensure that students do new things? We wonder about student involvement in creating the questions. . do they get to? Students need choices  that are open-ended and creative; we recognize it’s not just about the technology, but what the technology is forcing us to see and understand about our world. That’s a foundational understanding many teachers don’t have.  What foundational underpinnings do we want for ourselves, our teachers, our students? How do we best help students think for themselves?

We reminded ourselves visual literacy is crucial–how do we make that a vital part of our curriculum?  Back channels came up–we talked a bit about how conferences are changing because of back channel conversations–and the power of networks like twitter.

Our notetaker recorded these questions:

  • Redefining what literacy means, what is the “new literacy”?  Does everything 21st century mean “just technology”?  What about collaboration?
  • How do we hold ourselves accountable for addressing 21st century teaching and learning (beyond “you have to have 2 technology projects each year) information literacy, visual literacy, inquiry, collaboration
  • How do we stay on top of all of what we need to know and be able to do?
  • What do we mean by “21st century learning”? Not all wikis are 21st century?
  • If it sounds too intellectual and we don’t make it practical enough and related enough to the learning environment, are we pointing out the right stuff in the examples?
  • Examples that cut across specific projects but illustrate how we can just do this as what we do?
  • How do we make this more about who we are and not just something a few people do?
  • What does inquire, collaborate, etc. mean for students?
  • Why do we wait until after the SOLs to do cool stuff?  creative productions with choices…why aren’t we doing this all of the time?

We decided to meet again closer to the time we go, and also go to the opening reception together. We also agreed that we should pair up to go to sessions so we could bounce ideas off of a teammate.

And, again, we were reminded:

“Watch the back channels – this will be very interesting.”

24 Hours of Innovation

I heard today (May 2, 2009) on Twitter about a day for 24 Hours of Innovation.  The quote on the web site said,

“We are happy to invite all bloggers to take part in the My half time pep talk for 2009 blog action, organized during the 24 Hours of Innovation event.”

Having never done anything like this, I was intrigued and am interested in participating.  I don’t think it was intended for education, but if we can’t be innovative–and support our students in doing so, will there be innovators in the future?

So, if you’re reading this,  do you have ideas for innovative education?  Would you share links to YOUR ideas for it, or react to the ideas listed below that I may blog about?

  • the iPod Touch Pilot we have going on in our school.
  • meeting gifted students’ needs in a regular classroom–and how to innovatively differentiate for that.
  • planning for summertime professional development that makes a difference in the level of work (regarding higher level thinking skills) that students will engage in  the second half of 2009.

Thanks for any input you share.

I’ll be blogging May 15 at 11.15 pm CET or 5.15 pm EST as part of the 24 Hours of Innovation event.

iPod Pilot

We have an iPod Touch Pilot going at our school.  Well, we really have a mini pilot, since we only have 4 and we are trying them out with 7 kids. It’s been an interesting venture thus far, so much so that I thought I’d share some thoughts here and you can read the kids comments on our wiki, Crozet Math Musings iPod Pilot.

Sue Waters (@suewaters) tweeted on April 13 that

Education 1.0=Consumer

Education 2.0=Producer

Education 3.0=Collaborator

Others have said a similar thing about web 1.0, web 2.0 and web 3.0.  What we need to realize, as we work with iPod Touches (and I’m referring to the 2nd generation) is that it is designed as a device for access. It allows users to get to “stuff”–email, twitter, texting, the internet, games, etc., but it is NOT easy to create on it. It doesn’t allow access to many web sites in ways that you can use them (flash doesn’t work, for example, so there go all the flash-based games on my school’s computer support site), and the kids complain that the keyboard is hard to use.

If that is so, and it is mainly a device for access, then would it not make sense to categorize it as a web 1.0 device, since you are mostly consuming web pages with it??

But wait, can you not record on it?  Can you create a voicethread?  Can you work on a wiki?  If you can do some of those things, then doesn’t it become a web 2.0 device, since you can now produce on it?

And, as you record for that voicethread, or make that wiki, or respond to an email, text or Twitter, aren’t you collaborating?  Doesn’t that, then, allow us to classify it as a tool for collaboration, and thus a Web 3.0 tool?

If it’s such a tool for collaboration, then why aren’t we infusing them into classrooms and using them daily  instead of machines that cost three and maybe even as much as four times as much as an iPod?  Why don’t they become the basis for our 1:1 programs?

What are people using iPod Touches in the classroom for? My 8 and 9 year olds are exploring games on them, and reviewing the games (see our wiki).

What are others doing? See Chris Webb’s Why an iPod Touch in education? for more info on using iPods in the classroom.

There are lots of ways to use them, but do they REALLY do collaboration well?  I’m not so sure, and would be interested in YOUR ideas of what you would like to see on the iPod to make it more of a collaborative tool.  Iin the third or even fourth generation iPod, what features would YOU like to see?