Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new paradigm finds its logical place for praxis

Reading the CARET site with the research reports I found myself wondering about why, given the case studies and research, the praxis with technology lags behind. While each specific application may not have been tested and “proved” the potential positive impact on learning is very clear. We are all realists enough to know that this is not a miracle or one size fits all solution but we also know it is an important part of our world and our lives and it is real world learning for our students. Clarence waxes eloquently on these issues in his recent posts.

The issues for me, in the very beginning stages of encouraging implementation and experimentation, center on a reflection regarding the paradigm shift that has been touted for many years now of the “guide on the side”.. It seems to me that though in many circles we talk about this idea and even acknowledge it as the preferred model we have not yet seen it take hold in daily practice.

To my way of thinking two issues surface in my own experience of trying to share the vision for the uses of technology-

· The tools ( and the learning curve) are intimidating for some.
· The technologies of podcasts , blogs, streaming video, and distant experts all force the issue of “guide on the side” and they are messy.

To encourage implementation I was struck by the need to affirm the teachers in their role of curriculum developers and help them frame the questions to guide that practice.

This idea come from an article on CARET which states:

“In a qualitative analysis of nine case studies of schools where technology was used to conduct inquiry-based learning, (Means & Olson, 1997) described the role of teachers as "curriculum developers." Technology integration involved teachers in rethinking and reshaping their curriculum. Key questions for teachers to ask themselves as they reorganize curricula in terms of the technology application(s) they have selected are:
· What does the technology offer students in terms of developing concepts and content?
· How does it help students to carry out inquiry processes?
· How will students work together collaboratively or cooperatively?
· What is the relationship between technology and other instructional materials?
· What new knowledge of my content or discipline, of teaching, or of technology do I need in order to foster new learning in my students?
· What knowledge processes, and skills do students need before using the technology?
· My addition- What is the authentic audience for this learning and how can my students enter into a dialogue with them?

If we are committed to being “guides on the side” to support inquiry based learning then we need to begin to practice this and we need to provide the enhanced access to knowledge and dialouge that current technology offers.

As an administrator I must lead by example and then provide practical opportunities for the teachers to try it for themselves. What better use of faculty meeting time than everyone together in the computer lab sharing and trying together.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

If this is the vision how do we evangelize others

There is an interesting disscussion going on regarding the "new story" on David Warlick's blog. It covers alot of interesting territotry about what is at the heart of what we are doing. I resonate with a great deal of what is said including the concepts that it is more about instruction and learning, and relationships and connections than it is about blogs, computers or podcasts.

Right now for my purposes though the clarification of vision/mission is important. Below is a shortened and slightly edited version of David's conclusion that i think form the nucleus of the importnat message.
  • In this time there is a new notions of the basic information skills — literacy,
  • The student future ecconomic activities will be based far more on their inventiveness, than their ability to perform tasks and retain knowledge
  • Children who are adept at technology, but who desperately need us to teach them how to work the information.

I can write about this or talk about it but how do we communicate it in an experiential way to our stakeholders- teachers, parents...other administrators?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Seeking input as we move forward

First, I have to say this is the most exciting thing I have done in a long time! For those of you who have been around for some time now let me remind you about the thrill of seeing comments on your blog or the sheer awe caused by seeing a link to your blog on another site. No wonder this is such a powerful tool.

As I am contemplating the next step in rolling out our plans for fall of 2006 a couple of things strikes me. First, I see a need to get my teachers reading some of these blogs so at the next faculty meeting I think we will visit the computer lab and set up some blogline accounts. Phase two will be the creation of their own blogs because you can not teach what you have not done and of course, I want them to experience the same excitement awe and wonder I have experienced.

The other area I am pondering has to do with communicating with our stakeholders. I have read Nancy’s blog with all of the posts regarding why we blog but now I need to decided what do I need to communicate to my community of parents. Does anyone have any wisdom or insights? When you began blogging in your schools how was this handled? Did you or your administrator meet with the parents or did you just start blogging and then the students shared with their parents? Or????

On the same topic but from a slightly different perspective- What information should I make available for the parents? I do not want to overload them with technical information but I do want them to be informed about what we are doing and why. I am interested in links for articles, power point presentations, podcasts, or other sites that would be suitable to share with them. I think I am going to put a FAQ section on our website with links to relevant information but I need you help to gather the best information. Thank you!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Finding new vision and energy for education through blogs

I am in awe of what a powerful vehicle blogging can be for my own professional growth and development. My thinking has been stretched and I am gaining first hand experience of the power of building communities of learning. Reading through the blogs and moving through the various links the pattern of a rich and deep discussion begins to evolve. Because I am rather new to all of this I have been trying to take the time to read some of the earlier post too.

One recurring discussion is the issue of journaling vs blogging which raises the question what is it all about. It reminds me of the early complaints about computers in the classroom when some employed them as essentially expensive workbooks for drill and practice.

In Will Richardson’s blog there is a pertinent discussion that centers around presentations at the recent CUE conference. Which I have excerpted below:

Referring to CUE
The bad news is that to some extent, I think the conversation misses the point. What got me going was when Hall Davidson said “Blogs are online journals when done right” and then added that it’s “not a format that going to pull anything else out of you” compared to more traditional tools.

Will’s take on blogs-
Blogs are much more than online journals when done right. They offer much more than the traditional tools in terms of giving voice, building community, enhancing learning not just from a writing standpoint.

Peter said that from a teaching standpoint, your colleagues are no longer just the people down the hall. They are teachers in Australia and journalists in Russia and scientists in India. What a very cool, expansive way to start thinking about teaching.
Peter said that from a teaching standpoint, your colleagues are no longer just the people down the hall. They are teachers in Australia and journalists in Russia and scientists in India. What a very cool, expansive way to start thinking about teaching.

I agree whole heartedly with Will and Peter. In just one week of reading and beginning to blog I have experienced the power of collegial connections across the globe. I have experienced the need to take time with information and reflection in order to form an informed opinion. I have seen the difference between my daughters use of My space and the application of blogs in the classroom. This distinction was not immediately obvious to me as a neophyte but I get it now and hope to help others see it. Blogging in the classroom, to my understanding, is about learning to think critically and also learning to express yourself with an audience in mind.

To this end I understand when Clarence posted about his disappointment when his students writing about current events at a factual level and with only one resource. He had to reframe his assignment which leads us to remember that the questions we frame are critical to teaching thinking and to an effective use of blogs in the classroom. If we are serious about building learning communities and opening students to new sources of knowledge we must create an atmosphere of inquiry.

Let me end where I started...blogging has provided me with new hope and energy. As Peter stated so eloquently and as I have experienced this is a wonderful and "expansive way to think about teaching"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Daring to Dream Big

We are on the verge of big changes as we explore avenues to pursue excellence in education. As we seek to reconceive our classrooms, our teaching and our approach to curriculum I invite you to share your thoughts and insights.
Sorting out all the component of moving into full technology integration is overwhelming. Planning for presentations to various stakeholders has my head spining. Different materials are important for different audiences. For the parents , teachers , and potential donors we need to compile the data driven information regarding student achievement. But i also need to address parental concerns in face of all the my space news. How much information is enough and how much is too much?
We also need to choose from the myriad of potential blog sites, look at programs like moodle and find the best of professional development opportunities.....Sometimes it seems like too much..But the dream is also very exciting ...