Sunday, February 20, 2011

METC 2011 - Literacy is Not Enough

Think outside the box of your classroom

The world of education is changing. How do we keep up with all of the change? We need to think long term and we need to think outside the box.

Thinking long term begins with answering the question, what do students need? The point was made that we have been trying to define 21st century skills since the 21st century started, a decade ago. Lee Crockett said that it is time that we stop talking and start doing. According to Crockett, this means teachers need to get away from the stand and deliver instructional method and implement a project/process based learning program.

In my experiences, the stand and deliver method that Crockett mentioned is the easy way to go. It takes less planning, less training, and involves less risk. As we continue to focus on how students learn and retain information, we must also focus on assisting teachers. We must help teachers by giving them sufficient planning time as well as opportunities to collaborate with and observe other teachers. Teachers must also be encouraged to try new methods and take risks. Risks and mistakes cannot be avoided if learning is going to take place, for both teachers and students.

Find more information at an innovative resource designed to cultivate 21st century fluencies, while fostering engagement and adventure in the learning experience. 21st Century Fluency Project

Saturday, February 19, 2011

METC 2011 – Trends, Tactics, and Tools for 21st Century Learning

The stories from Kevin Honeycutt in the Trends, Tactics, and Tools for 21st Century Learning session will make most people want to get in the classroom and become a facilitator of learning. If you ever have the chance to listen to Kevin speak, take advantage of that opportunity. The session was full of examples of digital and technology tools that are available for implementing in instruction. However, it was not the tools that engaged the participants in the room. The specific examples of how those tools were used were motivating, engaging, and exciting to listen to.

Oftentimes the discussions in conferences and over twitter focus on the tools that we have available to us in education. This session made you think of the possibilities of specific activities and projects that can take place in the classroom. A common theme I heard throughout the METC conference was the way other educators are taking risks in the classrooms. Many of us know about the tools that are available to us, but many of us then struggle with how exactly to implement them in the classroom. Kevin Honeycutt took risks and let his students explore and discover. In what ways can you explore and discover in your classroom today? In what ways can you encourage yours students to explore and discover in their learning today?

METC 2011 - Getting Teachers to Adopt Technology: What To and Not To Do

Rushton Hurley’s list of What To and Not To Do in Getting Teachers to Adopt Technology was a thought provoking list for all administrators or technology specialists. The list of do’s and don’ts for both training and funds is listed below.

The item that has resonated with me since sitting in his session is “Don’t have teachers require themselves to be technology experts.” This idea can help leaders develop a vision that encourages teachers to implement technology tools (or any instructional method) that they feel will enhance student learning. If we wait to try something until we feel we are experts, we will never try it.

My encouragement to leaders is to not expect your teachers to be an expert. Instead, expect your teachers to be professional. Develop a philosophy of how you expect a professional teacher to plan, prepare, perform, and grow. To me, the term expert implies that you are someone who is at the very top of their profession and it is a term that is not applied to very many people. We should encourage greatness among our teachers, and recognize an educator who has become an expert in an area. But don’t expect every teacher to be experts. Expect professionalism.

PART 1: Training
Don’t have teachers require themselves to be technology experts
Do remind teachers of their expertise
Don’t start with standards
Do show something fun
Don’t sit in the lab for training
Do allow regular and short sharing time

PART 2: Funds
Don’t limit technology labs
Do show what’s possible with one or two computers in the classroom
Don’t buy expensive software a teacher hasn’t used
Do learn what's freely available
Dont blanket the campus with expensive hardware

Monday, February 14, 2011

METC 2011 - Web 2.0 Tools Smackdown

The one thing that I am constantly amazed at with Web 2.0 tools is the opportunities these tools present for collaboration. We spent some time learning about tools for sharing, scheduling, data/information collection, archiving, and creating. Most of the tools that were introduced had some kind of collaboration aspect to them (Dropbox, When is Good, Google Forms, Evernote, Flisti, Weebly, etc.) Using Web 2.0 tools will allow students to collaborate within their own classroom and with other students/classrooms from all over the world.

We also spent time discussing the necessities of educators having an online presence. Again, the benefits and necessity of an online presence revolve around collaboration. Your online presence will give you the opportunity for people to get to know you. It will give you the opportunity to share your ideas or resources that you are using. As of right now, I see twitter as the best way to develop your professional online presence. The opportunities for collaboration, sharing, and learning continue to be a great benefit to me and other educators.

Collaborating even took place among the participants in this session. The depth that these tools offer presented opportunities for the participants to add to the presenters information. There were a handful of times where a presenter was participating a tool, and a participant would add some details about the tool and how they are using it in the classroom.

The session concluded with some amazing video/audio/animation tools. Here is a direct link to all of the video/audio/animation resources that they shared.

Gina Hartman, Andrea Blanco, and Gwyneth Jones did a nice job with the presentation. All of the resources demonstrated at the session can be found on their Learning Tools SMACKDOWN wiki.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too much tweeting?

twitterI missed an opportunity a few weeks ago. It was a Friday morning and I happened to find some good resources that I decided to send out on twitter. I also engaged in some conversations over twitter about leadership and learning. A few people who follow me commented about the high number of tweets I was sending out that morning. I was given an opportunity to talk about how much I was learning from a few other educators from all over the country, and I didn’t do it. Instead, I questioned myself and wondered if I was actually tweeting too much. Can you tweet too much? I am sure it is possible, but tweeting too much should be defined by the quality of your tweets rather than the quantity. If you are sending out quality resources, if you are engaged in good conversations, you are not tweeting too much. If you are learning, you are not tweeting too much.

Keep on tweeting! Keep on learning!