Monday, May 21, 2007

Kudos to the Whole Staff!

In August of this year we began our exploration of 21st century teaching and learning. We took our first look at the National Technology Standards, we began talking about blogs and wikis, and we talked about the digital world and the skills it would require of our students. This was all new information for us and we were just beginning to scratch the surface of what it might mean in terms of teaching and learning.

Every member of the staff has worked hard this year to increase their comfort level with technology and to grapple with how all of this should impact our teaching and learning. The last couple of faculty meetings have been highlighted by some excellent professional sharing. We start each meeting by sharing the professional reading from blogs or online magazines with a focus on things 2.0 and discoveries. This is constructivist learning in practice and the discoveries, questions and ideas highlight the growth we have made this year.

Among the topics of conversation at the meeting were:

  • Andy Carvin’s article that talks about when laptops “fail” it is because we are not using them for anything more than fancy pencils. The purpose of laptops according to the article is 4 fold equal access, mobility, individual creativity and collaboration. ( The digital divide is a real issue and we have an obligation to assure all students have the advantages ( and skills) needed for today’s world)
  • As a extension of our definition of literacy the question “ What is text in the 21st century?” was asked…
  • The issue of understanding vs. learning- Are we teaching for understanding?
  • The role of the teacher …we are no longer gatekeepers of knowledge…

It is interesting to note that much of the discussion was about pedagogy not the tools. Hats off to the staff for deep thinking and for constructing meaning.

In addition to these highlights we have also spent two weeks on defining literacy for the digital age. It too is an important discussion and it helps us to focus on the skills that must be imbedded within the curriculum.

Key components of our constructed definition are:
· Communicate effectively
· Utilize various forms of media
· Find , evaluate and utilize information in a moral and ethical manner
· Read fluently, write, communicate, and analyze effectively both written and digital text
· Create and participate in a global community

The following definition was also offered ( from wikipedia): “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted the following definition: "Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society."

Looking back we have grown tremendously and looking forward we know that the needs of our students are complex. While the basic skills involved in learning are still the foundations of education they are not enough if our students are to succeed in our digital and globally connected world.

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Williwaw said...

Hello. My name is John O'Halloran. I am the CEO of Trailfire, a Web 2.0 company. We developed a knowledge sharing application that is finding its way into the classroom.

We did not originally envision Trailfire to be an application that would be used in education. We are, however, seeing a number of teachers beginning to use it for that purpose. I am looking for a few teachers who are interested in using technology in the classroom to take a look at our application and tell us what we can do to make it a more effective tool for teaching.

FYI, I created a wiki that gives you some information

Please check it out and let me know what you think.



Barbara said...

John, thanks for the note this looks like a cool tool and might fit well with my plans for next year!

SMeech said...

Hey Barbara... I am an educator who has used Trailfire to promote Digital Literacy... here are two of my Trailfire Links.. I would love to have feedback on what I should add, etc.

Digital Literacy - Official Sites

Arguements for Digital Literacy: Which I will be adding a link your blog...

Please feel free to let me know of sites and info I should include! I will be reorganizing the trails and setting up side trails as needed.

Additionally... I am giving a workshop on Digital Literacy this summer for educators and would welcome other ideas and info people might have...

Anonymous said...