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.”