In the morning, we got to hear from Mimi Ito, who works with the Digital Media Learning Research Hub at UC Irvine. Shas was phenomenal! I'd never had the chance to hear from her before, but I'd go to see her again in a heartbeat. She highlighted the major shifts in the world for which we are educating our students and how our students worlds differ from our own. One of the questions she asked and the faculty responses troubled me, however. She asked, "Do you think technology today makes our students smarter/more engaged/more social or less intelligent/more disengaged/less social?" With a show of thumbs (up, down, or to the side) at least half felt that technology made our students less intelligent/more disengaged/less social. Yikes!
I've told a lot of people that our district has one of the best superintendents...ever. Seriously, he's awesome. He has a vision for education that seeks to increase student engagement and develop a student's sense of personal agency. His platform for doing this is something he calls iPersonalize. It's hard to define exactly what iPersonalize is, but it is a gamified curriculum that is enriched by geolocation games and transmedia storytelling. The goal in the end is to help students release the superhero within themselves. In other words, kids shouldn't have to wait until they're older adults to make a difference in their communities or the broader world. They can, and should, make a difference now.
Yesterday was not the best of days for me. The wonderful Ann Kozma reminded me that today is a brand new day. Mind you that this text conversation was accompanied by lyrics from two different Disney movies. Hey, don't judge!
And you know what? It wasn't just a brand new day; it was a great day. It was also a crazy busy day with lots of meetings at different sites. I think I filled out about half of a mileage reimbursement sheet today because I visited about a third of the schools in the district. So what made it such a great day? Read on, my friends!
I always loved If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and the related titles. The domino effect described in the book can be explored in so many different contexts, including my own teaching practice.
In my last two years in the classroom, my teaching and learning in my classroom shifted dramatically. In fact, the term "shifted" does not seem to accurately reflect the change that occurred in a relatively short period of time. The change was primarily sparked because of the introduction of technology to my classroom and my struggle to make the best use of it that I could manage. If I look at it from a Piagetian viewpoint, the introduction of technology to my classroom disrupted the equilibrium in my teaching practice. And that simply wouldn't do! I struggled to find my new equilibrium and realized that I really needed to shift my conceptual understanding of what teaching and learning could and should look like.
There are many promising topics in education: gamification, the maker movement, social media in the classroom and many more. From informal conversations with young people, it seems that they are very much in favor of exploring these new areas and incorporating them into their education. And yet, they seem to be slow in catching on. Why? To use a scientific term, I think that we, the educators of this world, are the limiting factor.
I was challenged by Jody Green (@peerlessgreen) to share five things that educators must stop pretending in order to #makeschooldifferent. Here they are:
Let us stop pretending that adding technology to a classroom will automatically make it more engaging. I have seen technology change the face of teaching and learning in my own classroom and in our district. However, if you take your old boring worksheets and put them on an iPad as PDFs, do you know what you get? You'll get boring digital worksheets! We have to change how we do business.